Executive Director's Message
In 2006, I stepped into the footsteps and shadows of giants, our founders Anna Shotwell, Mary Murray, Alice Hall Dowling and Jane D. Edwards. Everyday I am reminded of the sacrifices of these heroines and the precious legacy that I must uphold. Our heroines had a “can do” attitude and I have an attitude of “failure is not an option”.
Everyday we face threats and opportunities. Our children and families are strong and resilient in the midst of so much hardship and adversity. Every step of the way, Harlem Dowling is there to lend a helping hand, a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry upon and holistic, culturally sensitive, wraparound services to strengthen and empower families. Long before the recession was officially declared and hunger in America was acknowledged, Harlem Dowling was there with an emergency food pantry. Long before there was statistical recognition of the growing number of HIV/AIDS cases among adolescents ages 14 to 24 and heterosexual women age 35 and older, Harlem Dowling targeted its focus and services on education, outreach and prevention in the community, even when we were not funded to do so. We simply had to get the message out to our community to save lives. Historically Harlem Dowling has been the first to respond with innovative programs that remain in touch with what is going on at ground zero, our community
The greatest reward that I receive as Executive Director is when a child, a youth or a family returns to the agency after they have achieved permanency and completed their services with the agency, just to check in and let us know how they are doing. The greatest joy is the youth or young adult who returns to say, “thank you Harlem Dowling for being there”. Many of us think that our youth are not listening to our words, but they are listening. Every encounter with a child or family is an opportunity to do or say something that may make a life altering change. I am cognizant of this every day as I remind our staff of how important their role is in helping children and families to achieve their full potential.
At Harlem Dowling we could not achieve all that we do without the dedication of our staff. Several years ago, I challenged our staff to achieve more family reunifications. They have risen to this challenge and so many others. To the staff of Harlem Dowling, I owe you a debt of gratitude. None of this work would be possible without our unsung heroes, our Foster and Adoptive Parents, the wind beneath the wings of Harlem Dowling. I also say thank you to the thousands of children and families served in all of our programs from After School to Preventive Services. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Thank you for challenging us to do more, to do it better and to do it in partnership with you, not for you.
To the many friends, stakeholders, donors and supporters of Harlem Dowling, this work would not be possible without your encouragement and financial support. You have supported us in so many ways. Words cannot say enough, but we thank you for being “part of the solution”. Our best days with your ongoing support are still ahead of us.