There’s no question, the last two years have been challenging, possibly the most challenging many of us have experienced during our lifetimes. But, a new year is here, and as a community, as a nation, and as a world – we embrace a fresh start with hope for the new year.  Positively Osceola asked a number of positive leaders in the community to share their hope and their plans for the new year, and how we can encourage and support each other in 2022.  We asked Reverend Mary Lee Downey, Chief Executive Officer with Hope Partnership, Inc. to share her hope and outlook for 2022.

As we close 2021 and look forward to 2022, it may feel like it’s a little hard to find hope. If your holiday was like mine, you saw friends and family get sick, saw health care workers feel unsupported, and may have wondered how we are still stuck in this never-ending pandemic. As the CEO and founder of The Hope Partnership, we saw the added fear of those who were unable to find suitable housing or struggled with food insecurity during a time that should be filled with happiness and joy.

It was and remains a very hard time. And yet. We still have hope. One of my favorite quotes states, “And sometimes, against all odds, against all logic, we still hope.” I’ve tried to figure out online who said that, and it might have been the main character of Grey’s Anatomy, and if it was, that still very much works. Every episode of that show is constant drama, and well, these days feel that way too.

As we step into 2022, it might feel hopeless, but we can, against all that we know, still look for the hope. I truly believe that we can end our housing crisis in this community. Will that be easy? No. But, I hope that with the right mix of folks around the table by the end of 2022 we will see even more housing options available to those who are the backbone of our workforce in hospitality and tourism.

I believe this, because, even though 2021 was a hard year at Hope Partnership, we still saw over 200 of our neighbors move into housing that were previously experiencing homelessness. Of that 200, 25 were people who had been living on the streets for more than two years. Even in our hardest times as an organization, people still found hope and housing. And I believe that can continue. It’s one thing to simply hope for things to get better, it’s another to continue to be a part of an organization that wants to bring that hope to fruition.

In 2022, it may not make sense, and it may feel like all the odds are stacked against us, and yet: we will still hope. Happy New Year Friends!

Rev. Mary Lee Downey

Chief Executive Officer, Hope Partnership, Inc.