Finding Strength in Community

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Susan Ban, ShelterCare Executive Director

Dear Friend of ShelterCare,

As rational human beings we know that the future is always unpredictable and we have no divine capacity to order the events of the universe. Nevertheless most of us have a trust in the predictability of systems and trends, the common course of events and probabilities.

With the most recent election, though, that “magical thinking” is replaced by the astounding wonderment of what might be next for health care, immigration, poverty programs, education, our country’s place in the world community, environmental policy, respect for diversity and so much more. Pick your issue, pick your cause—the future is unpredictable as are our expectations for the very fundamentals of government: the Supreme Court, state’s rights versus federal mandates, the economy, the future of civil discourse both locally and nationally.

It is here that I pause and take a step back to remember. What do I remember? The power and consistency of community—in particular, our community. Our community has demonstrated a unique ability to come together as a cohesive multi-systemic or multi-organizational force to address the problems of the “commons”: our shared resources, our community, our home.

On the day after the election I credit Dr. Rick Kincade for reminding us that long before Obamacare, our community had knit together hospitals, service agencies, insurance agencies and others to establish the Medical Access Program, which provided services for those eventually served by the Affordable Care Act. We will do this again if the need arises.

Our community’s programs serving infants and children have a history of collaboration that makes sure kids are ready for school no matter their income or household stability. Thank you, United Way, for both of these efforts.

The Poverty and Homelessness Board, the Mental Health Summit, the 15th Night Initiative, the Community Health Improvement Plan and several other local cross-system collaboratives are modeling audacious programs that adopt national best practice initiatives to address endemic and seemingly irresolvable social ills related to poverty, homelessness, health disparities and serious mental illness. Locally they are charting success, using data to measure progress and bridging the very system gaps that traditionally made change challenging.

So, as a rational human being I am grounding my hope for the future on these cornerstones of possibility: a community that cares for all constituent members, a commitment to a vision for a healthy community, a willingness to work collaboratively, a willingness to take risks and do things differently (using smart and nationally tested models of intervention and care). We, at ShelterCare, are eager participants in these efforts and are increasingly investing our hope and resources to make a significant difference that is measurable and sustainable for the long term.

As complex as the national and international vision for the future may be, when we focus on our own local community there is ample reason for hope. Our request for you who are reading this is that you get informed, get involved and add to the positive energy and initiatives that contribute to our community being a great and healthy place to live. It is possible!

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Susan Ban
Executive Director

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