RESPECT Is Thankful: A Message from Dr. Patricia Newman

I want to start by saying how thankful I am for the teamwork exhibited by the RESPECT staff while creating a VIRTUAL replication of the RESPECT organization during the past six months – all while under duress of a worldwide pandemic and national unrest with multiple stressors related to finances, health, employment and family. Truly there was great collaboration, sharing, learning and creating in order to arrive at a place where we now know we can continue to offer RESPECT programming in a way that is safe for our staff and our audiences while still presenting theatre based interactions as a powerful and effective tool for learning and staging conversations with each other!

So much appreciation is directed to the donors and various funding sources who helped provide the technology and training needed to adapt and create virtual programming to meet the needs of students during this unique time.  Many donors reached out with extra pandemic funding to make sure we were “doing all right!” And our board of directors found a way to create our first ever virtual fundraiser and silent auction that raised more than we had hoped for.

SO much expertise and input – from those who have shared training or workshops with us on racism, privilege, mental health concerns, abuse, bullying, the risks of on line activity and social media that are of concern to those of us who care for the students we work with.

A wide assortment of partnering and community organizations, including NAM, helped with training and support – so we could grow ourselves while expanding our organization from LIVE theatre to VIRTUAL theatre – in ways that will help us even when this pandemic is in the past.

I am truly grateful that we have an effective way to reach out to students of all ages, in a wide variety of technological formats, to help them have conversations about how they are experiencing the significant events related to the pandemic and the conversations about racism and social unrest that have been a major presence in 2020. We can still get their attention, facilitate their questions, encourage them to role play and try out  different ideas and possibilities about how to listen to and interact with others that help them learn and have more positive and healthy results. We can still adapt our programming, share a workshop, measure student responses and feedback! We can share workshops, after school programs and artist in residence programs!

I am extraordinarily grateful that RESPECT can continue to help – students across Nebraska and Iowa – learn about and explore, have conversations about and experience ideas, skills, ways of thinking and behavior,  resources for support – to stay healthy and safe in their relationships – until we can call be together again on stage!

All of us at RESPECT are grateful that our work is available to make a different in the lives and relationships of the students we have cared about for over 20 years.

Our wish now and throughout the year is for your good health and that you have much to be grateful for as well – we appreciate you!