A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FAMILY SERVICE SOCIETY, INC.
“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” Maya Angelou
Family Service Society affirms the value of Black Lives. We recognize the suffering caused by the burden of systemic racism and structural violence in our community and in our country. We have witnessed the damage of racism in the lives of those we serve and for some, through personal experience. As a counseling and youth services agency, we know that opportunity is interwoven with oppression - bestowing benefits on some while denying others. We also recognize the intersectionality, or the ways race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression and social class may cross paths leading to even greater disenfranchisement. We strive to alleviate suffering in the lives of individuals through counseling and support. We work to offer children connection and experiences that enrich their lives, encouraging them to dream. Yet, we know that systems level problems cannot be solved at the individual level alone. We pledge to support efforts that help educate and provide opportunities for dialog necessary to bring about change and a better future. Family Service Society also recognizes the important role police play in serving and protecting our community. We partner with the Bath Police and Steuben County Sheriff’s Department who volunteer as mentors in our Youth and Law Enforcement program for children in need of a supportive adult in their lives. Many children at the Laura Richardson Houghton Youth Center have happy memories of playing kickball, sharing pizza or celebrating holidays with officers from the Corning Police Department. We understand that while these activities are positive steps. They too are not enough. We pledge to reach out to the policing community to offer support in any way we can, recognizing that too often police may not have the tools that can de-escalate tense situations especially when responding to incidents that involve people struggling with serious mental illness. Today, is a time to commit to do more. We make this commitment from a place of humility, knowing there is much for us to learn and that we will mistakes as we grow. Maya Angelou also said, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” We can all take comfort and strength from her words. Knowing that it is only through love, that we can change the world.
Harmony Ayers-Friedlander Executive Director Family Service Society, Inc.