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Celebrating Our Many Gifts

Guest post by: Karen Rush, Children’s Center Executive Director 

Being from the upper Midwest, I have a fondness for cold weather, and I really enjoyed the snow we had during the last week of 2021. What I love about snow in Oregon is that you never really know what you are going to get until the moment it happens!

The promise (or threat) of snow is the only thing people can talk about as the weather approaches, with mixed emotions of joy, excitement, and anxiety. The headlines usually range from “a light dusting” all the way to over a foot of snow that may never melt! (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean).

Over the years that I have lived here, however, I have learned to both temper my expectations, and to stay present, and grateful, for the gift of the snow falling quietly onto the branches of the evergreen trees.

And speaking of gifts, this week I celebrate my one-year anniversary as the Executive Director of Children’s Center!  When I started the position, I knew that I was being given the opportunity to join a very special community.  However, a bit like our winter forecasts, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, and my feelings, hopes, and worries about this new adventure dominated my thoughts.

Despite that bit of angst as I started this position, I can truly say that, like the softly falling snow, 2021 has been a year that has brought delight and wonder. It has been full of the gifts of community, purpose, accomplishment, and joy!  The greatest of these gifts was the opportunity to build relationships with so many incredible and inspiring people.

The staff I joined, and am so very proud to lead, welcomed me with open arms. Over this year I found a community of colleagues that give their all as they compassionately serve children who may have experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect.

Additionally, they encourage me and each other daily, offering acceptance, friendship, laughter, kindness, and yummy baked goods. Their understanding and support of me was a real gift as I learned to bring my skills to nonprofit management and deepened my understanding of child maltreatment.

Then there is our wonderful Board of Directors, whose commitment and passion to end child abuse and neglect by making sure our organization is strong has never wavered. They encouraged and faithfully participated in our strategic planning process, and their dedication to fiscal responsibility, organizational excellence, and long-term sustainability are gifts not only to the organization but to our entire community.

I have also been honored to get to know and work with our long list of committed partners: nonprofit professionals, law enforcement officers and attorneys from the DA’s office, state and county professionals, and many others who are strong advocates for the well-being of kids.

Finally, but certainly not the least of these gifts, are all of you; individuals, business owners, philanthropic organizations, and grant funders who have continued and often increased your giving during this unprecedented time. I also must give a big shout-out to the quilt, blanket, and mask makers, as well as the stuffed animal donors who have kept our cupboards full.

I am both honored and humbled that, despite the ongoing frustration and continuing limitations that COVID places on our lives, as well as the worry for the safety of family and friends, our community is truly focused on the safety and well-being of children.

As this new year begins, I want to share with you that I am a believer in the power of dreams to affect the future, both at a personal level and in the creation of a better world. The key is to recognize the gifts that surround us to bring these dreams into reality.

So please join me in gratitude for the many gifts waiting for us at Children’s Center in 2022.  The gifts of:

  • Each new day full of opportunity;
  • A committed and passionate staff and board;
  • The families that visit us, bringing their vulnerability, and offering us their trust;
  • Each partner who helps us to learn and build our sense of community;
  • The individuals and organizations who give of their resources and/or time.
  • Our entire community – all of you who are dedicated to working with us to build a world where all children feel safe, valued, and heard.

I will leave you with the gift of an inspiring quote from Harriet Tubman, with the hope that her words encourage you to dream big for 2022!

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.   ~ Harriet Tubman


– Karen

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