Dear members of the Trinity congregation, staff, and Vestry:
Back in April, I sent you an update on Trinity’s initial response to the COVD-19 crisis and how we were helping our neighbors in these difficult times.
There’s been a lot of activity around Trinity since then—among our congregation, our Vestry, and our staff—and I wanted to make sure you all knew the extent of the work that’s been happening. Over the past few months, we’ve been able to provide additional assistance to our neighborhood, our diocese, and our international partners—and there will be more to come. This is not just in response to the pandemic, but in support of our initiatives in Racial Justice and Housing & Homelessness.
Through Trinity Commons, we have provided funding for the purchase of 100 laptop computers for our partners Metropolitan College of New York and Exalt, so that participants in those programs who don’t have computers can continue their academic and training programs through virtual classes and offerings. Also through the Commons, we continue to operate our Brown Bag Lunch program. Since New York City’s stay-at-home order was put into place in March, the Commons team has packed about 3,000 meals, which are being distributed daily at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. In addition to the Commons team, I want to thank our Security team, who have been managing the distribution.
Through the generous donation of $20,000 from the Congregational Council, we have been able to donate 288 gallons of hand sanitizer, 500 spray bottles, and 5,000 fabric face masks to the Episcopal Church in Navajoland. Trinity is also providing an additional $20,000 to source feminine hygiene products and diapers (both adult and infant) that have been requested by the Church in Navajoland. As one of the hardest-hit areas of the country, and a Church that is close to Trinity’s heart, we will be looking for additional ways to partner with Navajoland over the coming months.
The Council also provided $7,600 in support of our partner Kianga House to help buy groceries for single mothers who participate in their programming. And the Council has provided $2,300 to purchase laptops to enable some congregation members to attend our online worship services and programs. Trinity Commons continues to support Kianga House with weekly Fresh Direct deliveries of fruit, milk, cheese and bread.
In April, Trinity contributed $25,000 to the Mayor’s Office and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City Immigrant Burial Fund to help establish a burial fund for undocumented individuals who have died from COVID-19. Trinity was one of the first organizations to assist with the development of the fund and to provide seed money for its work.
And finally, in May, we donated 100,000 KN95 face masks to the Mayor’s Fund for COVID Relief for contribution to the New York City “PPE Stockpile.” This donation was proposed by and facilitated through Congregational Council member Wil Clark and Trinity’s Director of Security, Sean Ryan. Sean also has worked to ensure that we will have a supply of face masks for our congregation and staff when we return to our church and office building.
Our Grants & Mission Investing team has also just completed their Spring grants cycle, awarding $6.86 million to 57 organizations around New York City that are doing work to support racial justice and end mass incarceration, and fight the cycle of homelessness in our city. The needs in these areas—including re-entry programs for those leaving jails and prisons, particularly for women leaving Rikers Island; supporting programs for restorative justice; and lowering the number of households experiencing housing insecurity—have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, which has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable populations in our city. This is in addition to the $2.425 million in COVID-19 emergency response grants and loans we made to New York City nonprofits in April.
The Episcopal Diocese of New York
Across our diocese, there are many churches that suffered greatly during the pandemic—losing members of their congregations to the virus, being unable to worship together, and losing their financial support. In April, our Vestry approved a grant of $3 million to help the diocese establish a COVID-19 Relief Fund to offer financial assistance for churches in our diocese. The fund has provided a total of $2.65 million to 90 churches to help pay operational costs, and $350,000 to Episcopal Charities, which has provided 22 grants for mission and outreach programs by churches in the diocese, 75% of which provide food for those in need. I am honored that Trinity was able to support our neighboring churches in the good work that they do for their congregations and communities.
The pandemic has, of course, hit all corners of the world, and in some of the most vulnerable areas in Africa, South America and the Caribbean, people’s most basic needs are going unmet. Through our Grants and Mission Investing team, Trinity also made $1.5 million in international grants, including 36 grants totaling $500,000 to Anglican dioceses and organizations in those regions, so they can continue providing services to their communities. Those funds will be used buy items such as masks, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and food.
I firmly believe that we have been blessed with Trinity’s resources for the purpose of doing exactly this kind of work—meeting the immediate needs of our brothers and sisters, but also funding and supporting the long-term, hard work that can truly effect change. And it’s not lost on me that all of this work has come while we—as a congregation, staff, and Vestry—have had our own lives and routines disrupted and have had to learn new ways of being and working together.
I could not be prouder to be working alongside all of you, and I thank you for everything you’ve done. I wish you all continued strength for this work, and I hope you can find time to relax and recharge this summer.
The Rev. Phillip A. Jackson
Priest-in-charge and Vicar