Hello Dear Friends and Center supporters:
What a pleasure it is for me to share with you, our closest allies, another year of great achievement and challenges, on behalf of the thousands of babies, children, teens and young adults we worked with this year. This was a year of personal joy for me with the birth of my first grandchild, Gemma Rose, and the wonderful honor bestowed on me by this community with the receipt of the Athena Award. Since that time, I have thought about what Athena represents that made her so special and how her reputation reflects on our work at The Center.
You see, Athena was the goddess of war, but she was also the goddess of wisdom, and she is particularly known for using this wisdom to resolve issues, challenges and battles. It was her skilled connection to allies and her organizational prowess that earned her this title; it was her focus on positive strategies and working with those around her. She did not shy away from conflict; she confronted issues and she took sides to protect those who were vulnerable. This is what The Center did again this year. With laser focus on housing, education, health, employment and partnerships, The Center for Youth recommitted our legacy of taking on the hardest, most vulnerable and most disenfranchised young ones, and standing next to them and behind them. Athena earned her reputation for listening and for using arts and culture, as well as strength of character and integrity, to win her battles. The Center will continue to do the same as we enter our 45th year of service to our community.
In our work with youth, we are often inspired by the arts and culture in our city, popular music and films. As I was listening to the song, “Lost Stars,” sung by Adam Levine, the lyrics reminded me of us all, but especially our young people, and yes, even the babies at the Crisis Nursery. It goes…”Are we all lost stars, trying to light up the dark?” We may be specks of dust in the larger universe, but we are stars all the same, lighting up the dark, making our way, not giving up. Stars like Sarah who continues to inspire us as she seeks supports for her 3-year-old daughter at the Crisis Nursery, or Joseph whose determination keeps him focused on attending high school every day as he journeys from his apartment at the New Beginning House, or like Janelle, a Center staff member who is making connections with employers and getting our youth ready for jobs and careers, or Louis, a school-based crisis counselor, who is the first person to help de-escalate a crisis that could lead to an out-of-school suspension.
These are our stars, youth and staff alike, who appreciate that skills and strategies, partnerships and alliances, hard work and joy, will win the day, and like Athena, we will be promised a long-standing reputation that inspires and serves.
With deep gratitude, and thanks, again and again.