Like many of you, I have struggled to process the heinous, hateful acts of the past week. Last Wednesday, a man in Louisville, KY, killed two senior citizens at a grocery store after a failed attempt to enter a predominately black church. On Friday, a Florida man was arrested for sending pipe bombs to media outlets and prominent politicians. And Saturday morning, a man entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, killing eleven Jewish men and women while injuring six, including four police officers. This horrific incident marks the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in American history. These acts have become more and more frequent over the last few years, but we all know that hate has been a part of our world for way too long.
The only way to fight hate is with its most powerful foe: LOVE and UNITY. Earlier this week, the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island led a magnificent vigil, bringing together leaders of all faiths to stand as one and mourn together. With that moment of mourning came a renewed sense of unity; thousands of Rhode Islanders came together to raise their voices and spirits to say that hatred is not who we are, nor who we wish to become. Rhode Island stood with loving hearts and a desire to draw on the light from the darkness.
That’s what I love most about our state and the people in it. We have a deep-rooted passion to help in times of need. Many members of the community are trying to understand what they can do to help. We see folks at their best when help is needed, but many community members are confused on how they can personally impact the bigger issue.
Here are some suggestions as we move forward together:
- Volunteer in the community for causes that match your interests.
- Support families impacted by this tragedy; our sister organizations in Pennsylvania are raising funds, including:
- If you have children who are old enough to have heard the news, talk with them about unity to help them feel safe. Here are some resources that I believe are helpful:
- Join friends and facilitate conversations around equity, love, respect, and unity. We are so lucky to have the Center for Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University and their great events right in our backyard.
- For information on nonviolence, visit our partner The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.
- Also, I am a true believer that democracy is NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT! Why? Because only you can share your voice and your ideas with your representatives at the local, state, and national level by writing letters, calling, and voting. For more information about upcoming elections, visit R.I. Secretary of State.
Together, we can seek nonviolent answers that help alleviate violence in our lives and the world. Together, we can ensure that Rhode Islanders have a safe, equitable place to call home. Together, we can all know what it truly means to LIVE UNITED.
Cortney Nicolato is President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island and has held executive leadership positions in the nonprofit and business sectors for more than 17 years. Among her many accomplishments, Nicolato was President and CEO of The Senior Source, the largest nonprofit agency serving senior citizens in Dallas, Texas, has cultivated strategic partnerships with more than 100 organizations worldwide, and is sought-after as both a mentor and influencer.