A Message from the CEO

Dear Friend,

First, we hope that this message finds you healthy and safe. These are unusual times– to say the least!

We take pride in Isles’ culture. It pushes us to ask hard questions about our mission, and to continually learn. But now we must react to COVID-19, an unprecedented threat to the health and stability of those we serve.

The virus does affect everyone, but not equally. Communities like Trenton will be the hardest hit. They are densely packed. Their residents will be the first to be laid off, with fewer savings, limited health care access, reliance on school for food, and so much more. 

So heck yes, resources are needed!

How is Isles responding to this need?

  • Isles is helping build “cooperative gardens” and learning to train and communicate with gardeners through webinars. Access to quality food has never been more needed!
  • Isles’ financial counselors are offering virtual/tele-meetings to help workers and families as they try to navigate their rapidly changing financial situation.
  • Isles Youth Institute switched to online learning with Google classroom, and set up a pantry for hungry students. IYI is also connecting students and families to local restaurants doing food donations.
  • Isles, working with the Trenton Health Team, is maintaining a map of food distribution sites in the region.
  • Isles Center for Energy and Environmental Training (CEET) is exploring ways to bring their healthy homes training online and sharing resources to help families keep their homes clean and safe from harsh chemicals and asthma triggers.
  • The Social Profit Center at Mill One’s virtual leasing office is open for business, safe construction continues, and we’re developing virtual “member” options for the Center.

So yes, Isles is on the front lines, but we’re making systemic long-term change as well. This unprecedented threat is also joining people of good will in solidarity. In fact, we remember that Isles was borne of a notion that locally-based solutions (or “isles”) can foster self-reliance and sustainable healthy communities.

While you are at home “social distancing,” we invite you to read our 2019 Annual Report! This was an important transitional year for Isles. We expanded energy efficiency and solar, job training, education, electric vehicles, and more in places that really need them. And we continued to move Trenton towards a lead-safe future, support the emerging arts district, take a leadership role in gathering data to support redevelopment (including an updated vacant property survey), move the Social Profit Center forward and more–all while focusing on our North Star: family self-reliance and healthy, sustainable places.

Finally, as we monitor the impact of the virus on our work and communities, we want to assure you that our staff are safe and healthy. The vast majority of staff are working from home. Those who are participating in shutdown-exempt activities, such as construction and landscaping/gardening, are safely working in the field. Over the past 5 weeks, our team at Isles has shown remarkable resilience, supporting and caring for each other and our mission–often with humor amidst the tears.  

Yet this can only happen if we remain calm, courageous, and supported by good folks like you.

Thank you so much for making it possible!


In common unity,

Marty Johnson
President and CEO