Getting a group of any size to engage in wordsmithing can be just about as much fun as having a root canal. That’s why drafting or reviewing an organization’s mission statement is something few folks eagerly volunteer to do.
At YCCAC/Nasson, we have a unique mission statement; it has not been amended for many years, and probably would benefit from some re-drafting. In its present form, our mission statement has three elements, one of which doesn’t get much attention.
Our mission is to alleviate the effects of poverty, attack its underlying causes, and to promote the dignity and self sufficiency of the people of York County, Maine.
It is the last element—promoting the dignity and self-sufficiency of the people of York County—that we don’t talk about much, but it is every bit as important as the preceding clauses.
One of the hallmarks of our organization, and something that I have taken great pride in over the years, is that we consistently treat our clients and patients with respect. In some ways, one might think that it would go without saying that a social service and health care provider would treat people well. But the fact that our reputation for treating people with dignity sets us apart, suggests that people seeking resources or care, are simply not uniformly treated well.
We actualize this value in many ways, some large and some small. Respecting people obviously means that we interact with them politely. But it also means that we guard their private information. We don’t leave their personal documents lying around common areas, for example. We don’t discuss their c
ircumstances with co-workers, except as necessary to render services.
Promoting the dignity of the people we work with doesn’t require grand or exceptional gestures. We simply need to treat our clients and patients like we would want our grandparents or our children to be treated. A couple weeks ago, a Board member told me that she was trying to get in the main door, but it was locked. She said a staff member escorted her to a second door, let her in, and wished her a good day. And then the Board member said to me, “being treated so kindly said a lot to me about the culture of this organization.” And so it does.