By: Rich Hooks Wayman, CEO

I write to thank you.  LUK, Inc. is able to achieve its mission due to the dedication and contributions of our staff, management, Board, funders, and community allies.  Our ability to challenge and support people to achieve the full potential, to ensure the safety and health development of children and adults, and to build strong families is possible because of you.  As we enter the holiday seasons for 2015, I remain grateful for our collective accomplishments to improve our communities in Central Massachusetts.

I know that Thanksgiving is not always celebrated by all communities, especially indigenous American Indian communities who experienced genocide, displacement, and cultural assimilation by colonizing Europeans. However, I find value in the process of reflecting this time of year upon the things I am thankful and to recognize the blessings in my personal and professional life.

During the past few weeks we have been exposed to some horrific and tragic events of terrorism in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris. The loss of life to violence and the fear of continued terrorist campaigns can ripple through our communities through fear, anxiety, depression, anger, or hopelessness.  I have always been of the opinion that even in the darkest of times, hope and good abides within us.  There are always those who run toward the danger to serve others, and there are always acts of kindness and charity.

Perhaps in response to acts of terrorism and tragedies, I wish to voice my thankfulness for progress this year.  Progress on all levels:  progress of individuals to transform their lives, progress in community or agency to improve their services, and progress in our global civilization to advance the safety and well-being of all.

There are two major themes of progress that I wish to highlight this Thanksgiving.  First is LUK’s progress in improving the quality of our services and programs.  The second is the progress of our world in addressing child welfare and well-being.

Each year, LUK’s team evaluates our services and commitment to quality.  LUK’s commitment to quality services and continuous improvement is reflected in LUK’s systems and our promotion of a culture of quality and transparency. Our strategic planning processes, our quality improvement planning processes, and our quality improvement groups include staff members, agency leadership, members of the Board of Directors, and other stakeholders in our ongoing efforts to improve our effectiveness.

LUK seeks to provide the highest quality services to youth and families. FY15 was a busy year and our planning focused on strengthening our ability collect, analyze, and report data.  I am proud to report the following areas of positive results for FY2015:

  • All LUK programs were reviewed for compliance and to ensure positive outcomes were achieved;
  • Program Development oversaw the creation of three (3) new program models that will expand services to youth and families;
  • LUK received survey feedback from our customers and they reported 94% satisfaction with services;
  • In order to bolster support to employees, Leadership offered more comprehensive employee well-being trainings, implemented higher supervision standards, offered affordable health insurance, and implemented a livable-wage program for our lowest wage employees;
  • The Clinical Director with Clinical Team researched and developed a Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Plan for the agency.  This triggered the need for a Safety Concern/Incident reporting form.
  • Leadership focused on current strategic planning and identified nine (9) Priority Work Areas to focus our efforts in 2015 and 2016;
  • Given our emphasis on evaluation of program areas, LUK has seen a drastic increase in client outcomes reported in our agency database;
  • LUK team members responded to personnel surveys and 94% reported satisfaction with their experience as LUK employees;
  • LUK’s case record review saw an increase of nearly 15% in approved file documentation;
  • Leadership edited our agency’s grievance policies and electronic communication policy this past year as part of our risk management process; and
  • During FY2015, LUK raised our up-to-date employee performance evaluations to 75% (up from 40% in 2012 and 2013).

I share these results to be transparent to our team and our community allies. Progress is incremental but I am proud of the real progress we have accomplished.

Additionally, I wish to remind us that in times of crisis it’s easy to lose hope.  However, we should not lose sight of the fact that our world has made significant and meaningful progress in improving the well-being of children in the past 15 years!  Just prior to 9/11, the United Nations met for the Millennium Summit in 2000 and identified eight millennium development goal related to hunger, education, health, environmental sustainability, and gender equality.  While not every goal has been met, the results have been astonishing:

  • The global poverty rate has been cut in half;
  • Child mortality rates have been reduced in half (saving the lives of 17,000 children every day);
  • 90% of children in the developed world attends a primary school;
  • Measles immunizations have prevented 14 million deaths; and
  • Billions of people have gained access to sanitation and clean water.  (Michael A. Cohen, Century Foundation, “9/11 did not transform the world,” Boston Globe, September 6, 2014.)

To those that say that we cannot make a collective impact or that communities and governments can’t make a difference, I say you are wrong.  Civilization has been on a slow march of progress and acts of barbarism, terrorism, and violence will not thwart our efforts to ameliorate child poverty and deprivation.   There is much work to be done, but I hope we never lose sight of our resiliency and our commitment to justice and opportunity in our local communities and across our world. 

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture or charity.  It is an act of justice.  It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life… While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”  - Nelson Mandela.

“Many things we need can wait.  The child cannot.  Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow.  His name is today.”  - Gabriela Mistral

I remain thankful to you and to our progress forward.  May 2016 bring us all joy, health, and continued blessings.

Richard A. Hooks Wayman


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