Is it Spring, yet? I’ve lived in Kalamazoo for many years. But my family is from New Orleans, so while I appreciate winter’s beauty, I’m ready for all things green and colorful.
I’m especially eager to see the new landscaping that we planted last fall on our Kalamazoo campus come to life. Part of the successful $5.6 million Making Room for Hope Campaign was a large outdoor greenspace – named for extraordinary foster parents Elaine and Alan Van Leeuwen – that allows families to learn healthier parenting approaches and engage in more positive ways with their children. It includes meeting spaces for families, playground equipment, an open yard, garden areas and dozens of trees and shrubs planted in honor of Family & Children Services volunteers.
During the past few months, workers have put the finishing touches on other campus upgrades. Case workers, program managers, therapists, administrators and other employees in Kalamazoo are finally out of their cramped quarters and into a new efficient sunlit office landscape. The Counseling Center (newly renovated) and The Gilmore Smith Youth Activity Center (completely renovated) that were opened last fall are completely operational and serving clients.
I can tell that these new spaces are leading to a renewed energy and spirit of service by agency staff. It’s equally evident that the families and children we serve are also benefiting from the investment that our donors made in our facilities. Please come for a visit and see for yourself.
Speaking of generous donors, please see the article in this e-newsletter about our current HANDLE WITH CARE annual fund. We’ve set the biggest goal ever for this incredibly important fund. Every dollar we raise goes directly to help families and children with critical needs. Your help is greatly valued and badly needed.
Please, also see the articles about The Counseling Center and the Crisis Interventions the agency provides. These vital services contribute so much to the health and welfare of clients in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Portage and beyond. I’m struck by this quote from Susan Davis, program manager in our Mobile Crisis Response program, in the Crisis Intervention article:
“We say ‘In every crisis there is an opportunity.’ An opportunity to help a child, a family, a community. Perhaps even save a life. Our goal is to be prepared for any and all crises. We hope we never have to respond. But we’re ready when needed.”
That speaks volumes about the professionalism and compassion of the Family & Children Services employees, board members and volunteers I get to work with every day. Thank you, for supporting their work. Thank you for helping them lift up children, lift up families and strengthen our communities.
Now, if you could help a crocus or a few blades of grass lift their heads up through the snow, that would really be something!
Sherry Thomas-Cloud, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer
Family & Children Services