2016 Annual Message
Offering an annual message is as good a time as any to consider the axiomatic truth that we don’t get to choose the times in which we live. What we do get to choose is how we will approach troubled times when they come, the company we keep as we share in the journey, and how we work to sustain each other along the way.
The laundry list of “perfect storm” challenges facing Child & Family Agency has grown during 2016 almost faster than we can update the list, much less deal with each issue on the list. When such a list of hard news becomes long and grim enough, our sense of humor has to kick in in order for us to stay energized to work the problems, and so it’s no accident that CFA’s laundry list has started to play in my head in the voice of Gilda Radner’s classic “Rosanne Rosanna-Dana” Saturday Night Live character. The related quote from one of these “schticks” was her list of physical complaints when she was asked how she was doing, brought forward from my memory banks in a greeting card shared a few years ago by a long-time member of our wonderful 190+ staff. You can find it on YouTube if Gilda was on before your time (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58ISYD-DvEY):
“I’m depressed, my face broke out, I’m nauseous, I’m constipated, my feet swell, my gums are bleeding, my sinuses are clogged, I have heartburn, I’m cranky, and I have gas.”
CFA’s parallel, partial list of complaints currently is (and you’ll enjoy reading this more if you do it with Rosanne Rosanna-Dana’s voice in your head),
“Our grants keep getting cut, mid-year State rescissions are the norm, insurance reimbursement rates are stuck in the basement, health care coverage costs for our staff keep rising, the children and families we serve are dealing with tougher issues than ever, attracting and retaining staff is getting harder, unfunded mandates are on the rise, and the roof leaks.”
Alfred Reed’s classic song from the Great Depression sings, “How can a poor man stand such times and live?” The answer takes us back to where I started: while we don’t get to choose to live in less challenging times, we do get to choose, within a real-world range, how we want to respond, and in whose company. As I’ve expressed through many channels over this year, our staff, our board and our auxiliary volunteers are more “all in” as partners than ever. We are better linked through community outreach than ever, both on a service delivery level (e.g. our supports to the region’s school districts, our Family Resource Centers, and our upper-teen/young adult CT-STRONG programs), and on the level of deepening dialogue between ourselves, the job-creating business community, and our local legislators. For every area of service shrinkage we find or create an area of growth: our expanding intensive in-home services and our budding Training Department have been this year’s hottest examples. We are daily buoyed up by the inspiring strength and resilience of the clients we serve. And we are doing a better job than ever getting the word out about how special this place and its services are. We are here, and we are doing far more than just “playing defense” and surviving in place.
Are times tough? You bet they are, and they’re likely to get even tougher. Our endless gratitude goes out to all of you who are our partners in what we do here.
Richard D. Calvert, MSW, LCSW & Harry Ferguson, Board ChairSee the Report