When we began our company 30 years ago, our dream was to create neighborhoods that reflected the value that we place on families. We believed, and still do, that families are important to society. We desired to give our residents a place to live where they felt cared for, a neighborhood where they were respected, a home to be proud of, and a community in which to build solid relationships with neighbors. We wanted children to have opportunities and positive experiences, because we believed that the impact of this experience would follow children into adulthood.
Many years later, this dream was verbalized in a formal Mission Statement: To go beyond building places where people live by creating neighborhoods where people thrive. We took this mission to heart and we believed that to achieve this mission, we must value people, care for them, and show respect.
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others involved none of these values, and the anger and sadness that we see across our nation are a grim reminder of the injustices being experienced by Black People in our country. We understand that our Mission is not done. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty of the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” We have a responsibility to speak up; to declare that we denounce racism in all forms.
We know that what we say matters.Even more importantly, what we do matters.
We welcome opportunities to grow and to strengthen as a community. We offer our support and remain committed to listening, to learning, and to growing.
We will continue to offer books through our Book of the Month program that support progress and open dialogue about racism. If you are interested in organized discussion of these or any other material, please let your Community Team know.
For those struggling with the weight of these injustices, we offer our support to residents and team members through our counseling program. This benefit is currently being offered at no charge to residents and team members. Please visit our website for details on participating providers. All sessions are confidential.
We continue to work with our community partners, particularly Mission 1:27, to better understand our opportunity to be a positive influence, to make change, and to improve opportunities for our Residents and Team Members of Color. It is our desire to create an environment where people are leaning in, moving towards each other, and letting go of judgment.
We will listen.
To our Residents, Guests, and Team Members of Color, we hear you. To everyone else, we have work to do.
We would like to share with you an update on what we have been working on:
We have established a Race and Community task force that is meeting regularly to discuss our obligations and opportunities regarding racism.
We have revised our Book of the Month program to ensure the inclusion of books by a diverse group of authors.
We are working on plans for Black History Month to include our team members and residents.
Our offices will now be closed in observance and celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King.
We will be scheduling roundtable discussions with team members to encourage open dialogue about racism.
Our leadership team will begin reading books on the topic of racism and hosting weekly book discussions.
Our company operates using a set of 22 Service Standards which clearly define how our team members are to serve our residents, guests, and each other. We have added a 23rd Service Standard that reads “We denounce racism in all forms, and we are committed to being actively anti-racist.” We are passionate about ensuring that our team members embrace this new Service Standard.
My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera (ages 4-8) Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, by Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard (ages 4-8) Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pickney (ages 6-9) The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist (2017) by Cynthia Levinson and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (ages 6-9) Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford (ages 9-12) Black Brother, Black Brother (2020) by Jewell Parker Rhodes (ages 9-12) Stamped, Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi (ages 10-13)