This month we celebrate independence, and there is much to be said about autonomy and respect for individual agency. In fact, a big part of our work at REACH is helping folks get away from unhealthy, dangerous relationships where autonomy and respect are erased. However, independence doesn’t necessarily mean going it completely alone; autonomy is not isolation. It is our interdependence that sustains us as human beings.
Also this month, we at REACH are putting the finishing touches on our new strategic plan. And that plan recognizes the interdependence of our work and ourselves. Over the next few years, we are focusing on human resources, prevention, partnerships and collaborations, and financial sustainability. While developing this plan, we also engaged in a process to help us clearly articulate our vision for the future, our mission toward achieving that vision, and the values we hold as we do our work. It is important that these values convey what it means to work at REACH, to volunteer with REACH, and to participate in REACH programs. We engaged many stakeholders in this process – and we learned so much from each other.
We believe that we are all in this together and we are part of a larger movement. We believe that our collective knowledge, power, and compassion are needed in order to create lasting change. Partnerships and collaborations not only strengthen the safety net for folks who are victimized or marginalized, collective action creates shared understanding and that is what changes social norms.
We believe changing social norms is possible and necessary to dislodge the attitudes and behaviors that support the imbalances of power where domestic violence feeds. Educating young people – and “grownups” too – about the warning signs, intervention strategies, and how to talk about unhealthy or abusive behaviors can lead to lasting social change. How can we deepen and expand our efforts to prevent the pain before it starts?
At REACH, we believe that caring for one another – staff, volunteers, survivors, family, friends, neighbors, colleagues – is part of the change we want to see in the world. Promoting wellbeing helps sustain us – as does a living wage, growth opportunities, work/life balance, and benefits that enable joy in life. And as a vital community organization serving so many people and businesses and schools, we need to ensure our future is bright and that our financial foundation is strong. We are challenging ourselves to chart a course forward that will enable us to be here as we are needed and give us the opportunity to try new things while we continue to do what works. We need more voices, more networks, more investment, and more energy.
Independence is what makes us free – interdependence is what makes us sustainable. And that is what enables us to build for the future.