To our Howard County community,
2020 has been…something else. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all of us to grieve the loss of so much this year – our daily routines, jobs, social gatherings and, sadly, loved ones in our community and across the country. Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who is struggling right now.
We are not out of this public health and economic crisis yet. With coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising, we face a long winter ahead.
Still, there is hope. Hope brought by the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations with more to come. And more than anything, hope brought by the way our community has come together in this year to support those who need it the most.
As many of you know, in the early days of the pandemic, the Horizon Foundation teamed up with the Community Foundation of Howard County, the United Way of Central Maryland and the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County to launch HoCoRespond, a collaborative grantmaking effort to support local organizations battling on the frontlines of COVID-19. To date, this effort has awarded 46 grants totaling $608,500 in the last eight months to 34 nonprofits meeting food security, housing, childcare and health care needs. I am so proud of the way our local funders came together and stepped up to help collectively.
The Horizon Foundation itself also committed over $1.1 million in emergency funding to heath care and social service providers to respond to COVID-19. In the spirit of humility and generosity, the Foundation granted a record $2.4 million this year between COVID and other grants included in our strategic priorities. The needs of our community are still great and we stand philanthropically committed to supporting our community as we navigate this crisis.
The coronavirus is not the only epidemic we are facing. The murders of Black Americans like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others reignited a continuing conversation over systemic racism in our nation and in our local communities. We were blown away by the youth who led the charge in Howard County to protest injustice and demand change. Make no mistake – racism is a public health crisis. As an organization deeply committed to advancing racial equity, we stand with all of our grantees and our communities of color – and more and more frequently these are one in the same. We are committed to our vision for ALL people in Howard County to live long, healthy lives. If you haven’t already, check out our Equity Voices project, which aims to amplify the voices of Black community leaders and explore the many ways racism and other barriers affect the health and wellbeing of African Americans in Howard County.
These crises have challenged us this year, but they have also united us in a common cause. The work continues to make Howard County a healthier and more equitable place to live and work for everyone – and the Horizon Foundation will do its part every step of the way.
This year has been anything normal, and our holiday season will be different too. Yet despite all of the challenges and hardships of this year, I am grateful to be a part of this wonderful community. Let’s keep coming together to make Howard County a better place. However you celebrate (with masks, hand washing and physical distancing, of course), I wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and a brighter 2021.
Be well, Howard County.
Nikki Highsmith Vernick
President & CEO