Remembering What Matters Most


During this time of year, you and your loved ones are probably leaning into a variety of family traditions. Whether it’s putting up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving or going ice skating (even here in the desert!), our traditions mean a lot to us. They remind us of what matters. Even when life gets hard, these are memories we cherish forever.

Here at 1MISSION, we have our traditions too. And there’s one that means a lot to me in particular. As some of you may know, for each of our past three galas at the Phoenix Art Museum, we have created a new short film that serves as the “emotional heart” of the program. And these evenings together have been incredible.

But here’s the tradition I want to tell you about: each of these years, we have made it a priority to also host a special screening of the film, specifically for the people involved in the project.

It’s a small way of saying thanks and of honoring those who have entrusted us with their stories.

The tradition started small: in 2019 we sat in Aileen’s family’s newly built house and watched Dear Friend together on our president Greg Yochim’s laptop. The past couple of times, for Dreams (2021) and most recently for This is Home just last month, we hosted slightly larger gatherings for not just our stars and their families, but also their friends and neighbors.

As a storyteller, it means a lot to me when Gala guests and 1MISSION supporters like you respond to these films by giving generously. Your generous partnership is changing lives.

But on another level, the true test of our storytelling is to watch the faces of friends like Araceli, Ismael, and Aileen as they see themselves on screen for the first time. When Aileen sees how we have represented her family, how does it sit with her? When Araceli sees how we have conveyed her story of overcoming hardship, what does she feel? When Ismael sees how we have communicated his hopes and dreams, how does he respond?

Here at 1MISSION, we say we believe in the God-given dignity of every person involved in the process of community development—including partners like you, our fellow team members, and every family we serve.

This conviction informs how locally-led community projects are operated, how team meetings are run, and how we communicate with you, the people who support this work. We don’t do it perfectly. But we’re going to keep trying to do it better, in embroidery workshops and in community gardens, on build trips and bike rides, and yes, even in messages like this. That’s our commitment. It’s a tradition we want to hold onto forever.

On behalf of our team, I want to thank you for valuing the God-given dignity of the families we serve. Thank you for investing in their stories, their futures.

Thank you for partnering with us in the life-changing work of community development.


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