Coming into the close of year 3 of my employment here at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, I’d like to think I’m starting to figure out the rhythm of our workflow. Winter is full of events and project planning, in spring we roll up our sleeves and work with our congregations and other partners on education and restoration projects, summer is full of grant writing and reporting, and fall is our chance to take a breath, look at all we’ve accomplished in the past year and start to plan for the year ahead. I have to admit, the fall is one of my favorite times of the year!

The world has run out of colorful expressions to express the tumultuous state of human affairs during the last few trips the Earth has taken around the sun, but looking back on my years here at IPC, the past few have been years of tremendous growth despite (or in spite) of the challenging environment that surrounds us. I think that can be directly attributed to the hope-filled nature of our mission and our network of supporters like you. 

When I joined IPC back in 2019, we had 5 full-time staff members and one part-time staffer.  Coming into the last few months of 2021, we now have a staff of 8 full-time employees and 2 part-time employees. Not to mention 3 young adults joining us from the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Episcopal Service Corps, and AmeriCorps (through Volunteer Maryland). We’ve doubled in size!

This growth in our team is a direct result of the increased engagement of supporters and congregations and the clear enthusiasm for our mission and work. Since 2019, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and our One Water Partnership program has educated nearly 9,000 people, engaged over 2,000 volunteers, and worked with 28 congregations to design and/or install over 60 restoration projects alongside our non-profit partners. What’s more inspiring is there are 22 more congregations that have expressed interest in restoration projects on their property! 

These numbers certainly tell a story, but it’s not the whole story of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s growth and work. It’s my belief that the true power of what we do comes not just in the healing of local waterways but in the building of community around that effort. Over the last 3 years, I’ve seen congregations of many different cultures and backgrounds working side-by-side.  I’ve seen Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Evangelical, Unitarian Universalist, Hindu, Native American, and more faith communities join Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake in our mission of healing the Bay. I’ve seen relationships born across economic, social, racial, and religious lines. We’re working to heal the Bay here at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, but we’re also building and healing our sense of community along the way which is just as important, if not more, to our future on this planet. 

I’m extremely excited to head into 2022 with a full team of staff, a strong foundation of partner congregations, government and non-profit partners, and individuals like you that are motivated to bring real and positive change to our local waterways, and our communities. Oh, the positive ripples we shall make together! 

Thank you, for making the work we do successful!!

Matthew Heim

One Water Partnership Director