As I reflect on my tenure as both a member of the Board of Multicultural BRIDGE and the past few years as Board President, I feel a sense of pride and excitement combined with cautious optimism. As I look back at where BRIDGE started, where it’s been over the years and where it’s going, I realize it’s been quite a journey. And it’s an exciting time to be part of this great organization. We are only starting to scratch the surface on the education and cultural awareness work that serves as the foundation of BRIDGE’s mission. We started by seeking out organizations that would benefit from this type of education in an effort to communicate broadly about the need and value. I would add that there were also some bumps along the way. But over the years, we have worked through the best process of delivering cultural competence training service, while also finding the right balance of bringing together in celebration the diverse groups that help make up who we are in Berkshire County. We also achieved the distinction of earning state vendor status, which opened the door to many new organizations that not only benefit from, but are required to complete cultural competence education. Today, I am pleased to share that we are in a place where organizations and businesses understand the value of ensuring that we are welcoming to and serving the needs of our diverse communities. We have a long way to go, and therefore a lot of work to be done, but I firmly believe we are up to the challenge.
My confidence is due to the energy, commitment, skill and diligence of our Executive Director Gwendolyn Hampton Van Sant. Gwendolyn has been the driving force behind ensuring that everyone who should hear about the work of BRIDGE does hear about it. Her tireless efforts have helped put BRIDGE on track to continue fulfilling its mission well into the future. One major achievement in this regard is her cultivation of new Board members. We have several members of the Board who have joined us within the last year. I feel strongly that these new members combined with those who are continuing to serve will make significant contributions to building upon the work of BRIDGE and ensuring its prosperity for years to come.
One key area for the Board to focus its attention in the near future will be the financial stability of the organization to ensure long-term sustainability. We have made strides in this area – beginning as a single-employee extremely grassroots organization. We are still grassroots, but we have grown significantly, and our funding must keep pace. We have many key supporters who have been there with us from the beginning. To you, I say “Thank you.” Your support has been essential to helping us move us to the place we are today. If you have not yet provided financial support to BRIDGE, I encourage you to make a gift today. We rely solely on the contributions of individuals, businesses and foundation grants to continue the work of transforming our community into a more integrated & culturally sensitive environment. Thank you for your consideration.
We are embarking on exciting times for BRIDGE. And, although I’m leaving the Board, I look forward to continuing to support the work as a member of the Advisory Committee. I am eager to see all that is to come. We typically begin our Board meetings with a quote, so I will end with one here by Winston Churchill, which was excerpted from Barbara Bonner’s book Inspiring Generosity, “What is the use of living if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we’re gone?”
Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!
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