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Matt Allio

When Social Distancing Fails (A Message of Thanks)

Dear Trinity Families,

Last Friday night at the virtual Benefit, we were unable to maintain social distancing. As a community, we simply couldn’t do it. I’m not disappointed, however. Let me explain.

First, can there be a phrase more ironic than “social distancing”? As I run, as I ride my bike, as I shop for groceries, the phrase is everywhere. It’s the mantra of today, the slogan of 2020. And yet – how ironic to be both social – to evoke laughter and friendship  – and to also stay apart. The coronavirus necessitates this important step, and of course, we’re taking it together.
As we “gathered” on the live stream last Friday night, we weren’t in physical proximity. However, I’m not sure we’ve ever been more “together” and more focused on our values.

As an Episcopal school, working in service of others is core to who we are, and on Friday, you made financial aid for our students and recognizing our faculty key priorities for the coming months.

Far from being “distanced,” our efforts blossomed in the span of 45 minutes to create a tangible opportunity for our students and our faculty. There was cheer, and toasting, and a motivated feeling that the era of coronavirus will pass. We were social and optimistic, we were committed and collective.
There was one moment from Friday that I won’t forget. All of you had just settled in for the bidding, led by our wonderful auctioneer Kenn Cunningham, and I began speaking about the importance of Fund-A-Need, a fundraiser to support financial aid in the coming year. Working from my notes, I tried to put Fund-A-Need in context of the fragile economics many families are facing.
I could only hope that my message was reaching all of you – a feeling that was somewhat complicated by the fact that I couldn’t actually see anyone. I needn’t have worried. At 9:15 p.m., the contributions began pouring in.  I was able to announce a combined $20K matching gift from two Trinity families, and by 9:25 p.m., the community had raised over $80K. Gratitude doesn’t begin to explain what I felt.

A bit later, I felt a similar rush when all of you came together to help send a member of our faculty on a trip to Niagara-by-the-Lake, Canada. The Mahal Family generously donated their home there, and bolstered by donations from across the Trinity Community, we were able to fully fund a trip for a member of our faculty. I have never seen this done at an auction, and it speaks volumes about Trinity’s community and values.

Once again, my thanks to our Benefit Co-Chairs Anya Chernyk-Hodges, Nicky Colaco and Katy Roybal for making the Benefit a reality, and to all of you for your generosity. I feel proud that at a  time when so much feels in flux, our community has perhaps never felt closer. The social bonds between us are strong, as is the sense of togetherness.

Said simply: we’re good at many things, but we’re not great at “social distancing” in the strictest definition of those words. And for that, I’m truly grateful to you all.


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