While this last week has been unseasonably warm here in New England and parts of the Midwest, today definitely feels like a mid November day: chilly, damp and dark. Perhaps that is why I wanted to wish all of you – and our friends from the Indian subcontinent – a very happy Diwali. If you don’t know about this major holiday in India, you can read about it here.
Diwali is a celebration of light triumphing over darkness and is often celebrated by lighting candles (deyas) and displaying bright and cheery flowers, often marigolds. I had one Indian friend of mine many years ago describe it to me as “Thanksgiving and Christmas all wrapped into one, with everyone wearing white colors.” This year especially, amidst the challenges of a historic pandemic and a fraught election, we could use more celebrations of light and the return of goodness. For the last few years, First Parish has rented out our Parish Hall to a local group of Indian Americans for their Diwali celebrations. This year this did not happen, alas. We continue to miss all the people and groups that use our building each month and year. So Happy Diwali to all our Indian friends here and elsewhere!
I want to offer a very brief update on the Weston Cares Fund and will plan on offering additional details next week. I am pleased to report that as of last Monday the Fund has raised over $100,000 in donations, $102,650 to be exact. Over 200 folks from Weston (mainly) have donated to the Weston Cares Fund with 39 of them donating more than $1,000 and at least 5 people donating $5,000 or more. While initially most of the donations came from those of us at First Parish Church, increasingly we have received gifts from people in the larger community, which is both heartening and inspiring to see.
To date, the Fund (through the work of the Steering Committee) has given away away over $66,000 in grants to local individuals and organizations struggling with with the impacts of COVID-19. Because of your gifts, 100% of which is being used for grants, we have been able to provide emergency support to 36 individuals and 13 different local non-profits and agencies. The organizations include groups like Healthy Waltham, Soc. Of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, A Place to Turn, the Boys and Girls Club of Waltham and WATCH CDC. We have prioritized grants that help people stay in their homes, feed their families and provide food and emergency support to local folks truly in need.
This is going to be a hard few months for a whole lot of people around here, as it will be for people all over the country and world. Because of all of us who support the Weston Cares Fund, we will be able to step in and make a real difference in the lives of local people, including families right here in Weston. That is something for which I plan to give thanks over the next few weeks.
See you in Church,