Many spoke these words to us as small children just beginning to walk, “go ahead . . . take the next step . . . you can do it.”
Later in life, either the same people or others told us once again to take the next step. They encouraged us to move beyond fears and apprehensions by moving forward in a personal relationship, exploring a professional career opportunity, or investigating other aspects of our lives, even when we felt unsure.
Today, we are in extraordinarily challenging times of uncertainty, fear, and insecurity.
A worldwide virus challenges us to care for others by maintaining distance and wearing protective face coverings. SOS Illinois has witnessed many of the communities in which we serve suffer from this pandemic in disproportionate numbers. As we continue to provide much-needed services, we see the impact of COVID-19 leaving thousands upon thousands sick and millions unemployed; and most recently we have sadly seen once again the visible signs of hatred, division, and racism that permeates our society.
So, amidst all this, what must we do? The options are simple. We can stand paralyzed in fear and remain in the shadows of uncertainty, or we can collectively stand and find the courage to take that next step.
That next step for SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is to act upon the goodness that is ours.
We will continue to heal, teach, and strengthen children, as well as guide them to move beyond fears and uncertainty. By leading each child to take the much-needed steps, we show them they can trust in the power of the human spirit through authentic, unconditional, and powerful love.
Out of such love for others, we will be implementing in June new protocols on our journey to provide more services in each of our Villages. We are taking the next steps ensuring that good sanitation practices, social distancing, protective face coverings, and self-monitoring will maximize everyone staying safe and healthy.
Yet just as important, we will be working with our Foster Parents and staff to take the next steps in dialogue with our children to let them know the brokenness in our society will not define us, but motivate us to be who we really are – a people on a common journey towards the good.
Recently, we had an online gathering all the Villages. Some of the children gathered with us and looked at the array of faces on the monitors. I could not help but notice the smiles on each of the children’s faces.
I also realized for some of the children their first days coming into foster care could not allow them to smile due to their pains, fears, and uncertainties.
And yet, each of those children trusted and took the next steps. They were able to believe they could move forward. They heard and trusted in our voices and our presence that they could do it.
Today during all of this, we still can smile at each other- even if behind face coverings . . . because we can move forward. We can take that next step guided by the voices of our past that urged us to move forward when everything seemed unclear.
I thank each of you for all you give us and how you inspire SOS Illinois to keep moving forward. I trust always in your confidence and commitment to keep us united in strength on this magnificent journey of ours.
Today, we can take the next step for the children in our care and for children in foster care everywhere . . . so later, they can teach others to smile again and trust to take the next step.