Meghan Markle is looking back on how she made sense of 2020.
"When I reflect on 2020, I always come back to the importance of community and connection," the Duchess of Sussex wrote in her foreword for The Mayhew Foundation’s annual review.
"We may have been forced apart, but we found new ways to be close and to support each other through this shared crisis. For many of us, this was made all the easier with our pets by our side."
Mayhew, a London-based animal welfare charity, aims to improve the lives of dogs and cats. It provides free and low-cost veterinary service and works with the community to find forever homes for pets in need, among others.
It is one of two patronages the 39-year-old has maintained since she stepped down as a senior royal in early 2020 alongside her husband Prince Harry.
In her foreword, the former "Suits" star described the life-changing events of last year as "an overwhelming process of grief, growth and also of gratitude."
"As we collectively build to the future, my sincere hope is that we do so with ongoing support and appreciation for organizations like Mayhew, who continue their vital work in days of crisis and in days of calm. Their commitment to the cause of animal welfare is steadfast and their effect on our community wellbeing is self-evident."
She noted "the therapeutic effect of having your animal by your side and the solace and comfort you found in their company."
The former American actress first became a patron of Mayhew in January 2019. Her first visit to Mayhew took place when she was pregnant with Archie.
Prior to her charity work, Markle is known for adopting her dogs and is an advocate for animal rescue. It was previously reported she adopted their dogs Bogart and Guy. After marrying Harry in 2018, the couple adopted a black Lab.
Markle also continues to work with Smart Works, a U.K. organization that helps unemployed and vulnerable women return to the workplace. They provide coaching tips, as well as professional attire for job interviews.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departures from royal duties began in 2020 over what they described as the British media’s intrusions and racist attitudes towards the former "Suits" star. The family now resides in the coastal city of Montecito, Calif.
On June 4, the couple welcomed their second child, a daughter named Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. The child is eighth in line to the British throne.
The name pays tribute to both Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose family nickname is Lilibet, and his late mother, Princess Diana.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.