The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tzu

Dear Friends of Friends Outside:

My mantra for 2021 is “Be the Change you Want to See in the World.”  A former FOLA volunteer, Kathleen Tobin, sent me the following, of unknown authorship:

What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?

What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?

A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw –

That if finally forces us to grow.

A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us

from our ignorant slumber.

A year we finally accept the need for change.

Declare change.  Work for change.  Become the change.

A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart.

2020 isn’t cancelled, but perhaps instead

is the most important year of them all.

While still grieving incalculable losses due to COVID, I am concerned that a possible palliative effect of this new year could be a false reassurance that somehow a new year will make our problems disappear.  But, pick a cause, from the criminal justice system, to economic disparity, healthcare disparity, climate change, or a democracy on the edge and scratch the surface.  There is likely at least one concern for which each of us could have done something or done something more.  For example, in 1985, we had a state prison population of 50,000.   By 2005, it was 167,698.  Today it is stands at approximately 115,000.   Average people made this positive change happen by educating the public, unrelenting advocacy, and by voting.

Won’t you  join me in taking a first step of many by supporting and getting actively involved in something you want to change?  Let’s make 2021 and beyond a Happier New Year!

Mary Weaver

Executive Director

Reflections on 2020

Dear Friends of Friends Outside: 

As the year comes to a close, I suspect that many are looking forward to kicking it figuratively to the curb and toasting its conclusion on New Year’s Eve.  It has been a trying year at the least.  One of my personal guidelines is “If I am going to go through H – e – double hockey sticks, I am going to learn from it.”  Here is a partial list of my lessons learned.  I share them with the hope that we as members of humanity remember to take a few moments to do what we can to make 2021 a little better for us all.   

  • Take nothing for granted.  Many people lost loved ones very unexpectedly and under the most hideous of circumstances.  And, who would have imagined 20 years ago that in one short year people would visit New York City and not see the World Trade Center in the skyline.   Ultimately, everything, even brick and mortar, is transitory and can disappear much more quickly than we might have ever imagined.
  • Take care of my health.  When horrible diseases come around, people with better health have better chances of surviving.
  • Take care of our democracy.   200+ years old, it is easy to take for granted but also fragile as a rose.  Vote.  Hold public officials accountable.  Fight to defend my beliefs.
  • Take care of our planet.  Do something every day to restore Planet Earth.  As I saw on a t-shirt, “There is no Planet B.” 

And, finally, remember to thank the persons who have helped you.  So, a big “Thank you” to the persons who have supported our Mission in 2020.  The need became greater and so many people rose to the occasion by donating their money and time to help ensure that we could continue to do our important work. 

As the year ends, I wish each of you an enjoyable and healthy Holiday and hope that our actions in 2021 are informed by what we have learned in 2020.


Mary Weaver

Executive Director