At this time of the year, I had planned on sharing a message about how much we at FOCUS have to be thankful for (we do) and how thankful we are for you (we are). But like many of you, after a long and disturbing night, I would be remiss in not addressing the unrest occurring in our region and the pain being felt in our communities.
During this challenging time, voices in our region have called for many things – for peace, for justice, for dialogue, for answers, for change, for healing. The issues at hand are complex, which makes the call for leadership all that much greater.
While we cannot predict what lies ahead, FOCUS will continue to do our best to support our region and its citizens. We will strive to be a neutral convener and facilitator and to empower our community to work together. In the face of pain and conflict, it can be tempting to turn away, but as we reiterate time and again in our programs, leaders show up. Our hope is that our FOCUS alumni and friends will continue to “show up,” in ways both big and small, to influence positive community change. We look forward to your support in so doing.
And finally, our frustration over what is still lacking or broken should not overshadow our gratitude for what we do have, or our motivation to make things better for our neighbor and region. If you know individuals or businesses in the area seeking assistance with basic needs, or represent an organization wishing to help, we urge you to contact the United Way at 211 or 800-427-4626 and the South Grand Community Improvement District at 314-772-5750.
Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving.
Yemi S. Akande-Bartsch, Ph.D. Executive Director FOCUS St. Louis®