July 10, 2013

From Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director of Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, From The Executive Director, New Horizons Educational Program at 6:58 pm by Lund

Barbara speaking at the 2013 Honoring Ceremony in the new building at 50 Joy Drive

Barbara speaking at the 2013 Honoring Ceremony in the new building at 50 Joy Drive

Lund’s Honoring Ceremony this year was particularly moving.   In general, this event is always one I bring tissues to, as I found it really powerful and emotional to witness how hard so many of our clients are working to advance their educations.    This year, our two keynote speakers both resonated with me on so many levels.   One of our New Horizons’ alumni spoke about her experience.  She had dropped out of high school when she was pregnant with twins.  Her very wise Reach-Up worker at Lund had encouraged her to check out our school, telling her how bright she was and offering her encouragement to further her education and finish high school.  Our Reach up worker was successful in getting this young woman to check out New Horizons.  This young woman which this not only went on to graduate from New Horizons earning her high school diploma from her local high school, but she is currently a successful student who just finished her second year at Champlain College.    She spoke of the role that Lund played in helping her at this key time.   She is clearly going places and a vivid example of the better and brighter future and trajectory that so many of our clients experience who come to Lund.  From older children getting adopted through Project Family or women coming to get treatment, education, and skill building, so many people end up going places they never dreamed possible before.   As this young woman spoke to our current students, her success and story were a shining example and inspiration to them of what is possible.

Lisa Ventriss, former Lund Board President and board member was our other key note speaker.   Lisa, who is a remarkable public speaker, message totally resonated not only with our honorees, but with everyone in the audience, and for sure with me.  Her three pieces of advice (which she shared in three entertaining stories) boiled down to:

  • To thine own self be true;
  • Never, ever, ever, ever, give up; and
  • Be grateful.

To thine own self be true:  Lisa’s words reminded me that sometimes as the Executive Director, in my various roles, it’s important to speak the truth, even if it’s hard, difficult, or not going to be well received.  It’s important to be able to live with myself and know that I am doing right by Lund and our mission.

As a lifelong advocate for social change, especially for children and families, I found her never, ever, ever, give up message important.    Social change is hard and I have continued to learn that no matter where you sit to effect social change, it’s still hard.   I often hear, “incremental change”, Barbara, or “patience is needed, these things take time”.     I don’t like hearing those words, as children and families can’t wait and sometimes incremental change seems pointless or futile.   Lisa’s words were well timed, for me right then and right now still, when we still have so much advocacy to do.    As Reach Up participants have gotten incredible attention and scrutiny lately, I am reminded of the misinformation or generalizations that occur in the media or in people’s minds that do a disservice to the very hard work that the honorees and others we work with are doing, day in and day out, to make a better life for themselves and their families.   There is no social program that is 100% foolproof and we will always have people who take advantage of any of these – be it paying taxes, getting a bail out, unemployment, or getting public assistance, to name a few examples;   But, we must remember all the people that programs like Reach Up have successfully helped and not forget that as well, as we hear about the failures.  For some reason, Reach Up is one that people like to assume the worst in people about, and I frequently hear extremely uncharitable remarks about people who are on Reach up.  I know if I don’t speak up about the truth when I hear these painful generalizations, I am not being true to myself.

Be grateful   While I am extremely grateful, it’s always a good reminder to me to not just be grateful, but to remember to let people know just how grateful I am, especially those who I am grateful for! On days like the honoring ceremony, I cannot help but be extremely grateful to work at Lund, with such dedicated staff and has a mission that is so important and that I feel so passionate about.  I am grateful to our clients. I am humbled and inspired by the hard work and courage they have, while their lives are not easy and many have few or little supports, but are doing what they can to make the future brighter for their children and themselves.  I am also grateful to have the very good fortune that I live in a community where people volunteer and give so freely of their time.  Our volunteers, including those that serve on the Lund Board help us in such important and profound ways are essential and critical to our success and existence.  As you will see from the article on our new and retiring Lund Board, Lisa Ventriss, and our other current and former board members are in their own right, remarkable and play an important part of helping children thrive.

I am grateful to our donors, community and state partners, our private funders who gives generously with their financial support and help as well.

Thanks to each of you for your support of Lund.    We could not do what we do without the support of our donors, supporters and friends.  I am truly grateful.

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