Statement of Support
It’s been an emotional few months to say the least. Together, we’ve been living with the panic of the unknown throughout the pandemic and the economic crisis. Now we are faced with another important test of our spirit and our humanity, as our collective fear, frustration and anger have emerged in light of the George Floyd death and many other recent racial incidents. 60 years after the Detroit riots, we sadly are still standing on the same precipice. We are being watched closely by the world, as demonstrations are held around the globe, mirroring these important questions – How are we, as a nation, going to solve racial injustice? Our choices are the same as in the 60’s – how do we get it right this time?
Throughout the recent events, I keep thinking about a small boy that I met many years ago. I was volunteering for a church’s back-to-school fair for underprivileged youth. My task was to stand by an intersection with a sign, waving in passing traffic. The African American pastor came out to check on me and two African American women walked by with their children, including a little boy about the age of 4. As we talked about the fair, a police car drove by. The little boy muttered “Look out for the Po-Po.”
This is a phrase that I have heard many times from people of many colors, usually in reference to police speed traps on the freeway. But his meaning was clearly very different and it shook me. As a white woman, I had been raised with police officers in my extended family and was taught to respect and appreciate them, because they were there to protect and help me. Yet this small child’s meaning was about fear and suspicion, which he did not know from personal experience – he was taught that belief.
The families left and I told the Pastor my reaction. The Pastor compassionately looked at me and said, “As a black man, I was raised with a different belief system, because black men are generally treated differently by the police. We are taught that even if you are polite, compliant and respectful, you are still in danger when dealing with the police. It’s just our reality, so mothers do what they can to protect their sons from an early age.” That is the sad truth that generations of African Americans know and it is their daily lives.
But there is hope. The difference between the current protests and those of the past is that there is a more significant multitude of colors represented. This movement has become more than a single race or culture. Never before have I seen so many police and leaders from so many sectors adding their support to the cause, acknowledging that change has to occur. This is our opportunity to make the world different. Even though it is hard and scary, it is up to us NOW, to change what mothers of all races tell their sons in future generations.
St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center’s mission is to support our community through education, bridging the economic gap for the low income community, which is disproportionately made up of minorities. Our work is more important than ever, because economic empowerment is a key factor in eliminating racial disparity and division. Empowerment leads to equality – seeing each other as equals is essential in eliminating social injustice. Each life is valued the same and that is how we can create a better world for our children and future generations. We, as an organization, speak for our students and families, adding our voice to the chorus that we must work together to create systemic change. An open mind, leads to an open heart and from there, we can try to build a different foundation of not just “acceptance”, but true change.
As I asked in the Spring Newsletter, what would your life be if you were born into a different zip code? I add to that now and ask what your life would be if you were born a different race? Please consider that as we move through the coming days and events. We hope that you will join us in praying for the healing and evolution of our country, the patience needed for peaceful protest and that our leaders are graced with calm and soulful consideration. There is only one race….the human race.
Lord – I need your grace to voice my pain, so that those who hear feel my pain, not my rage, born from their deafness.
Mission And Values
For 175 years, St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center has provided support to the children and families of Southeastern Michigan. We provide educational programs, basic skill building and learning enhancement for at-risk children and adults, designed to build self-sufficiency skills for academic and employment success, personal achievement and dignity.
Our Values – The values of our founders continue to guide the expression of the Centers mission:
- Simplicity – Honesty, integrity and openness in all of our words and actions
- Teamwork – Working together in service to others
- Advocacy – Advocating for those with no voice
- Inventiveness – Being creative in everything we do
- Respect – Showing respect for those we serve & everyone we contact on their behalf
- Service Quality – Providing the highest quality services
How Has SVSF Evolved?
Many people in our community know SVSF and understand its long legacy of service to children and families in Southeastern Michigan. The origin of the Center dates back to 1844 when the organization opened as a kindergarten for orphaned children. Since then, organization and its services have evolved as the needs of the community evolve, in order to provide caring and compassionate support to Southeastern Michigan. Many members of Metropolitan Detroit interacted with the Center, when it resided in Farmington Hills, serving as a main adoption/foster care facility. However, in 2006, social policies and the economy changed and children were no longer being placed into residential care, but instead were being placed directly into foster care. As a result, the Center made the strategic decision that the best way to continue our mission and to serve as many families as possible, was to return to the roots of the organization – education. To meet the tremendous need, SVSF brought its long history of community support to Detroit and created supplemental educational programs to take some of the load off the shoulders of the residents. For our students and their families, hope is beginning to take root. We are here to give them the tools they need to succeed and to provide opportunities where none existed.
We decided that more people needed to know about our amazing educational support system and that more services were needed to help keep the momentum going for our students. So we created a fully-integrated social work approach to education, which celebrates and respects all aspects of the student. We provide the capacity to break down the barriers that have prevented our students from achieving their full potential. SVSF is here to help children and adults take control of their lives and empower them to see the possibilities for their future.The Children’s Program offers both after-school and summer programs personalized tutoring to prevent children from falling behind and being pigeon-holed later on in life. The Adult Education Program offers unique assistance that is not found in other High School Equivalency programs and our first-time pass rates are exceptional.
For our children, where their education resources aren’t able to meet their needs and for our adult students, who want to change their lives and be able to better support their families. Changing one family at a time – through education. Join us and help to make an impact.