A CelebRAYtion

By: John A. Lanier

Alas, RayDay 2020 was destined to be one of the millions of special occasions lost in the wake of COVID-19. It’s unfortunate, because we have seen the magic that comes from 2,000 people gathered in common cause to celebrate Mother Earth and the many organizations that work to protect her.

The streak would have continued. That’s what I thought about this past Sunday morning, when Atlanta was bathed in sunlight. The afternoon ended up peaking at a high of 72 degrees, which was the perfect invitation to go outside. In a word, the weather was perfect. So, had we been able to host our annual RayDay celebration in the fields of Serenbe last Sunday, we once again would have enjoyed wonderful weather. In the eight years since our first RayDay, we haven’t been rained out yet.

Alas, RayDay 2020 was destined to be one of the millions of special occasions lost in the wake of COVID-19. It’s unfortunate, because we have seen the magic that comes from 2,000 people gathered in common cause to celebrate Mother Earth and the many organizations that work to protect her. Important connections happen organically at every RayDay. People are reminded how enriching it can be to stroll through a field with the sun shining on your face. Children discover that nature is both the best teacher and the best playmate.

As they say though, when one door closes another one opens. Knowing that we couldn’t celebrate the legacy of Ray Anderson in person this year, our Foundation instead did it virtually for the past 13 weeks. In lieu of RayDay, we held a CelebRAYtion! I hope that many of you engaged with all of the great social media content that we shared along with 13 of our closest partner organizations in advancing environmental sustainability. Our gratitude goes out to these organizations for walking this path with us.

There was another aspect to this as well. When we host RayDay, there are always rather significant expenses associated with it. We are proud to cover those, since RayDay is our annual gift to our environmental community, but cancelling RayDay meant that we saved quite a bit of money this year. It didn’t seem right for us to just pocket those savings, so we decided to give a new gift this year.

As part of the CelebRAYtion, we pledged up to $5,000 of matching grant funds to each of our 13 partner organizations. This is a challenging year, and the support of foundations and the public alike is critically important. We were thrilled to see that across these organizations, a total of $40,220 was raised against our matches. And don’t worry – even for those who didn’t raise the full $5,000, we are still giving them our full grant.

The grand total raised during CelebRAYtion was $105,220. 

 

And we already have our sights set on 2021! We hope that by next fall, large gatherings will once again be safe, so we have scheduled RayDay 2021 for Sunday, October 17. You can even go ahead and register at this link. Meanwhile, I’ll start checking the weather reports…..we’ve got a streak that needs to stay alive!

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