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Raphaela, a member and two-time Giving Project alumnus, relfects on the Grantee Summit she just attended, and shares what she loves most about being part of the Social Justice Fund community.

Organizing against oppression, injustice, and legislative measures that continue to pile up against equality and social justice is a fearless and often overwhelming charge   Yet, it’s impossible for anyone who was at the Social Justice Fund Grantee Summit to deny the sense of community, hope and humor in the atrium of City University on Saturday.

The energy was palpable, and unique.  It’s difficult to describe but I’m reminded of something I heard from Dee Lundberg, a board member from Equality State Policy Center (ESPC), who in describing the movement they’re building, offered an apt description of Social Justice Fund and that hard-to-place feeling that was in the air Saturday.  She said, “The surprise benefit of movement-building is community, is home, is family.”

As a Social Justice Fund member and two-time Giving Project alumni, I’ve always found that opportunities like the Grantee Summit and site visits are the greatest gift Social Justice Fund has given me. It’s like a pass to hope and optimism, as I learn more about people who are working against low or no budgets, unfriendly political climates, and legal and bureaucratic issues that force them to push their creativity to reach out to their communities in safe and effective ways.

The result of this tenacity and collective power, as a summit member, is a feast of good news and positive strides that provoke the kind of jaw-dropping we’re more used to feeling from hearing discouraging news.  During the Summit, people were excitedly reading out loud from the notes they’d taken, and recalling surprising facts they didn’t know before.  What was striking before and after the day’s organized panels was that everyone, in this community of old friends reuniting and people who have plenty to share with each other, was that they all felt that they learned something new and profound.

Simply put, I am overwhelmed, in a good way, and it was clear this Saturday that I’m not alone.