Dear SHF Family,
Like many of you, I have been carrying a heavy weight of sadness and frustration caused by the tragic and senseless shooting that occurred on May 14th, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.
I went to medical school in nearby Rochester, New York where I embarked on the journey of becoming the doctor that I am today. I remember making the five-hour trek from Brooklyn’s concrete jungle to the abundance of nature present in Upstate New York. The peaceful, tree-lined surroundings granted me peace and serenity. However, as beautiful as the region is, it’s not the most racially/culturally diverse area. I would often ponder whether I was traveling the same routes taken by leaders like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglas, and Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. I wondered if and how they reconciled the tranquility with the social volatility and violence that permeated the area and much of our nation.
The news cyclically conflates mental health and gun violence and then moves on to the next topic. I was devastated that hate had snatched the lives of ten people. I, like many others, was shocked and angry. Yet. Again. Enough is enough. BLACK PEOPLE DIED WHILE GROCERY SHOPPING! Why doesn’t that matter? How do we process this? They are gone. What really can be done? Then the spirit of servant leaders before me brought me an incredible sense of calm. Their lives will always matter. It is how we respond as individuals - spreading love, sharing joyful moments, and fighting for what is right and just - that honors their lives. There are greater movements happening around us. Those who have died provide us with determination that is fueled by the fire within to continue the fight against racial inequality and social injustice. It enables us to THINK BIG and BE BOLD. They don’t die in vain but they transcend the struggle. We as a nation have not walked back. We are walking forward (and must continue to) because of them.
We can choose to be bonded by our commonalities or separated by hate.
I am so proud that Shared Harvest now stands at the intersection of health and social justice, giving equitable access to EVERYONE. We are serving with compassion and leading through service. The idea that three community-centered Black women doctors who dreamed of how to combine service and student loan relief could grow into a social enterprise that is providing health services, student loan forgiveness, and creating a safety net around nearly 13,000 residents and families during a pandemic IS progress. It is because of the spirits of those who struggled before us, and YOU our incredible supporters, that we dare to think boldly, differently, intentionally, and inclusively.
So bring on the conversations about how we make services accessible for those who are suffering with poor mental health. Bring on the conversations about how we make our society safer. Bring on how to prevent guns from being a medium of violence in our communities. How do we hold individuals accountable for their actions, while holding our leaders accountable for breeding hate and condoning violence? Bring it on.
Our heart goes out to the families in mourning. Only time heals these types of wounds. Shared Harvest is lifting you up in prayer and unapologetically doing good work so you may rest.
Dr. NanaEfua Afoh-Manin
Your Founder & Principal Happy Dancer