June 3, 2020 —Dear colleagues,
The events of this past week lay heavy on our hearts; as an organization and as a community we stand alongside those who oppose and protest racism, intolerance, and evil. Our values guide our actions and as an affiliate of Kendal, my system peers have discussed what can be done. Below is a letter from Sean Kelly, President and CEO of Kendal. It represents a collaborative effort and is just the beginning. I share it with you as a statement of solidarity, encouragement and as a call to action.
We believe that there is a light in each of us that is a divine equalizer and we are called to let our lights shine on others and for others. We are advocates against all injustices and seek peace, healing, unity, reunification and inclusivity. We actively engage and listen to one another, welcome diverse viewpoints and come humbly ready and willing to change our position, having seen through the lens of another’s experience and perspective. We, together, call upon our better angels and hold those who hurt, are marginalized or persecuted in the light.
Let’s let our lights shine brightly in the dark places of this world. Let’s be the change!
Thom Wright, Executive Director, CEO
Right now, every single one of us is experiencing some level of anger, sadness and even fear as a complex climate of divisiveness seems to touch all aspects of our world.
We understand why there are protests. Kendal has always been, and continues to be a place for those who speak out and act for social justice, in peace and in strength. Kendal and its Quaker forebearers have stood, spoken loudly and taken heroic action against discrimination — but the impact of those testimonies has not been lasting. Today a bright light shines upon that painful reality — brought into sharp focus by the recent abhorrent and unconscionable deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey and now George Floyd. This has to end, and we must raise our voices and act on our convictions.
Now, more than ever, we will speak out and hold up the Values that unite us across the Kendal System. Kendal has no tolerance for hate or any form of discrimination. Living and working together in true community is critical to how we serve and thrive.
Kendal encourages and welcomes all people without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic, to live in our communities and to serve on our teams and boards. We believe deeply that equality is a human right, and Kendal communities have been among the first in the country to seek diversity in individuals who want to live and work at Kendal.
Kendal values quality of life and fostering a sense of community. In order to live out these values, we believe that each person is to be cherished, honored and treated accordingly in an atmosphere of mutual respect and caring.
Kendal values integrity and seeks to live in harmony with the truth. We are compelled to call out these terrible acts of social injustice for what they are and to help eliminate all forms of racism and violence so that we all may find a better place together.
While these words have a shared meaning for us all — and they can be inspiring and indeed help us endure — we don’t all share the same experiences. As a diverse community, residents, as well as team members, have had different life experiences. Many people of color have had to work harder, endure racism, and overcome negative experiences simply as a result of their skin color. Speaking to this condition is a shared responsibility.
While each of our paths to this place today have been different, we now stand together to call out for a better way. For those who continually experience injustice, inequality and discrimination, in direct contradiction of our shared Kendal Values, I say we stand with you, we resist with you.
We say thank you to our team members — you heroes who get up each day and continue to serve — bringing your skills, compassion, dedication and courage to the work you do. YOU inspire us to stay at it and never give up in our determination to create change, to create something better, built on the bedrock of Kendal’s values and the Quaker spirit they are drawn from. Enduring isn’t enough. We MUST make change, and we will, together.
In the coming days and weeks, we will find the means to come together and know one another at a deeper level across Kendal. We will hear each other’s stories; we will hold each other up. We will also find partners outside of Kendal who hope for and are inspired to work with us toward common goals, goals that not only speak of change but make it happen.
This week, on Thursday, June 4, at 9 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. CT and Noon ET, wherever we are, we will stand together in solidarity and in silence for 5 minutes of silence, united in acknowledging what wrongs have been committed and recognizing where we stand on the long path forward to peace and justice.
Sean Kelly President and CEO