The clocks have been turned ahead, the sun is shining past 5pm and warmer weather is finally in sight. Springtime seems to sneak up on us each year, but always bringing a sense of hope as it arrives. The birds are singing and the trees are blooming once again. The air is fresher, the grass is greener and the feeling of renewal is upon us.  

As Spring began last year, none of us realized the word normal would become unfamiliar. Our new vocabulary included quarantine, two weeks, social distancing, stay home, we are all in this together, new normal and the one we love to hate – PIVOT. And who would have thought toilet paper would become the most sought after item in the world? This past year ironically feels like it has been an eternity that has gone by in the blink of an eye.

Throughout the unknown, fear and loss, we saw strength, collaboration and hope. We have never been more proud to be a part of the Central Jersey Shore Community. Going along with the theme of Spring revival, we wanted to share some of the silver lining moments and positivity we’ve experienced over the last year.

We gained insight – We’ve all had the thought, “What would we have done differently if we could have seen this coming?” Although we can’t go back, we do have the insight to move forward. As part of our Catapult Institute Workshops, we’ve held many virtual sessions for our nonprofit partners on COVID-related topics that were impacting their operations. We talked about keeping employees engaged while virtual, fundraising during COVID, using Zoom to its fullest and planning for the future. We also facilitated Virtual Lunch Hours where nonprofits could stay connected to their peers but most importantly, have candid talks about the successes and challenges they’ve faced throughout the pandemic, among other valuable topics. Through these open discussions, we’ve shared tools, resources and have learned from one another. While we hope we never have to face anything like this again, we are all better equipped to handle future challenges.

We collaborated more –One of our Foundation’s core values is collaboration and we are inspired when people work together to increase impact. We have seen so much collaboration throughout the pandemic with the goal of serving more people in need. The selflessness in this sector makes us proud. No one was concerned about their own piece of the pie, but rather how can we make MORE pie and make sure everyone gets a piece. Local businesses stepped up and also played an important role in helping during the COVID crisis. As the saying goes, “alone we are strong, together we are stronger.”

We found new ways of operating – It took a while for all of us to adjust to the new ways of doing things. We all thought Zoom meetings, drive through services and virtual appointments would be temporary, but some have been working out so well, we may be seeing a hybrid model moving forward. Without the commute, board and other meeting attendance has certainly increased. We’ve had a chance to feature guest speakers from around the globe at virtual events. And, even though in-person fundraising events were forced to cancel, organizations found ways to make it happen online and raise funds while cutting out some of the typical event expenses.

We felt a great sense of community – When disaster or tragedy strikes, it tends to bring people together as we all look for ways to help and heal. The Central Jersey Shore is no exception. We are grateful and proud to live, work and play in such an incredible community.

Necessary DEI work is being done – We have all learned a lot about social justice issues across our nation over the past year. At the Grunin Foundation, we have been doing the work internally – both individually and as a team – to become an antiracist organization. We are working with partners to identify obstacles to DEI in our region as well as finding effective strategies or solutions to address them. We are committed to making essential changes to facilitate continuing development and dialogue in our DEI journey and we are proud of our nonprofit partners who are doing the same.

Time to spring forward

2020 has given us some of the most trying times we’ve ever been through. It’s also strengthened our partnerships, our passion to serve and our community. We will take and apply all of the lessons learned with us as we move forward.

We have some exciting partnership and program announcements to come in 2021 – all with the goal of driving economic excellence, increasing the quality of life for all residents of the Central Jersey Shore and championing a just and equitable society. As always, we are grateful to our nonprofit partners for being on this journey with us and making our community healthier, stronger, safer and more inclusive.

And before we sign off, we’d like to give a HUGE shoutout to our hospital systems, doctors, nurses and all the healthcare workers who kept our community as healthy and safe as possible. None of us could do what we do each day without having a strong healthcare system as our backbone – THANK YOU!

Here’s to brighter days…

Jay Grunin Jeremy Grunin