Friends of ReLeaf,
Thank you so much for all your generous support of California ReLeaf and our work helping community groups plant trees all over the state – and especially in underserved neighborhoods that most need trees. Fiscal year 2021 was the first full year of coping with COVID. It was a bit rocky at first as we moved into the fall planting season. In October ReLeaf held a webinar on tree planting and care during COVID to share resources and recommendations with support from Network members Tree Fresno and Canopy as well as the LA Office of Forest Management. Sharing ideas and supporting each other (and urban forests) is why California ReLeaf was created back in 1989.
As we’ve all seen, the unexpected silver lining of COVID has been the fast adaptation to virtual platforms – which is especially helpful for a statewide network of community nonprofits. Being able to meet “face to face” virtually in ReLeaf’s monthly Learn Over Lunches has become a wonderful opportunity for the Network to connect and share insights, experiences, best practices. While we look forward to being able to meet in person again for our annual Network Retreat someday, these virtual meetings will remain an excellent way of staying in closer contact throughout the year.
During the LOLs, we’ve heard from our ReLeaf Network member organizations about their signature programs as well as how they’ve nimbly shifted gears to adjust to the new normal of much smaller tree planting events and different ways of organizing volunteers. We applaud the creativity and resilience of our urban forestry community organizations as they thoughtfully adapted to an ever-changing reality.
While it was a tumultuous year socially, politically, emotionally, and even technologically, it has been heartening and affirming to hear how parks and greenspace were recognized by the Centers for Disease Control as helping people cope with stress. Many health care professionals are encouraging everyone to get outside and enjoy nature in parks and their backyards for their mental and physical wellbeing ̶ and as we know, trees are the overarching champions of nature.
In this report you will find information about our work in three different priority areas, stories from the grants we closed in March 2021, and highlights from the Network. Thank you again for your belief in our mission and support of our work.