Dear YCCAC/Nasson Colleagues:
To state the obvious, we are living through tumultuous days. Anger and rage—along with a powerful sense of fear and profound sorrow—have all swirled together and prompted some of our fellow citizens to erupt in violence. Our Capitol was violated; death and mayhem held sway for a few hours last Wednesday. Fear of more to come has many of us on edge.
I suspect that most of you who work at YCCAC/Nasson are not surprised that anger is bubbling over. We work everyday with people who, though they are working as hard as they can, are not getting a fair shake. They work more than one low wage job, don’t get paid time off when their kids are sick. Don’t get health insurance from their employer, and have to lose pay to visit a state office to apply for Medicaid. Which they risk losing when they get more hours at work.
Some of them worked 18 hour days for months or years to build a small business, only to be told by public officials that for our collective safety, they need to close their doors for weeks or months. Most would be happy to do what they can to keep the virus under control, but closing down means they must choose between feeding their kids and following well meaning guidelines. For their inconvenience, they are in line to get $600.00.
Others have had to live with the acute pain of losing a loved one to the virus, without even having the chance to be present and to hold a hand; to say goodbye.
And we are all bewildered by why a country as rich as ours, when faced with a difficult but manageable challenge, has, as the daily evidence suggests, largely failed.
Calls for healing and unity can ring hollow at times like these. But what our work, I hope, has taught us is that a community that is stitched together can withstand even the tumult that we are currently witnessing.
It is easy to discount the notion that coming together and caring for each other can actually lead to a restored national soul. However, those aspirations are more than mere sentimentality. At YCCAC/Nasson, we can be an active agent in making things better. We can continue to listen to those who come to us for help. We can advocate for policy priorities that mean our clients, patients, neighbors and family members who are working hard do get a fair shake. Maybe we can, in our small corner of the country, help to channel the passion—now erupting as anger or sorrow—away from more destruction and toward building a better community.
The page is about to turn in our country, and when the page does turn we have the chance to recapture our optimism. I’ve lived through a lot of elections, and honestly, more often than not, I have been disappointed in the outcome. But I have always been disciplined enough to expect the best from incoming leadership, and we need to do that now.
I would welcome your thoughts on how we can respond to the pain we see that, when ignored, unleashes the worst in us and destroys our communities. And I would also welcome your thoughts on policy changes we should insist on from incoming leadership.
Thanks as always for your hard work and your kindness to our clients, patients, and each other. That’s what will bring us through this difficult time and make the future much brighter than the past.