Message from the Board Chair & CEO
Everyone is alone sometimes. The boy who comes home after school several hours before his parents arrive; the girl who moved here from out of state with no social or familial support system; your friend – the only one in your group – who has yet to find love or companionship; your retired neighbor, their spouse deceased, with no one else to fill that void.
These examples may describe what it looks like when someone is alone, but it is when that situation repeats itself, coupled with pain or uncomfortable feelings related to being alone, that we begin to more aptly describe what it means to experience loneliness. In today’s world, many experts fear that loneliness has become an epidemic.
Feeling loved, a sense of belonging, feeling connected and knowing who in your life you can depend on when things get difficult – these are some of the basic needs humans need to experience joy and meaning in their life. However, what is less commonly known are the dramatic physiological impacts of social isolation, social exclusion and bullying have on healthy brain development. More specifically, when you feel isolated, when you are rejected or are the victim of emotional attacks, your brain interprets this just like it does actual violence.
Think about that – how different would your life be if you were repeatedly the victim of physical violence. That image you have, it’s the same image when the experience is emotional pain. In a lot of ways, loneliness is what leads so many people to the services we provide at F&CS. And it is in that context that so many of our most meaningful initiatives are born.
In 2017, for the first year in several, F&CS didn’t start any new programs. What we did, was solidify some of the important services we provide to vulnerable people living throughout our community. With the support of so many people and organizations throughout Tompkins County, F&CS grew our off-site clinical services in Groton and Dryden and added more resources to our runaway and homeless youth programming; provided more geriatric mental health services, and engaged more people experiencing distress through the outreach program, than we’d ever engaged before; and made huge strides in how we educate clinicians, and bring awareness about important mental health, through our community education programming.
In 2017, we also celebrated to the 20th and final Cayuga at Twilight fundraising event, knowing that because of this event, because of so many caring people, hundreds of thousands of dollars of new resources were invested in ensuring all children have an accessible place for them and their families to receive the highest quality mental health services.
Thank you, for the support, we have received from so many people over the past year (and since our beginnings as the Ithaca Children’s Home). We look forward to the year aged and the impact we hope to make in combating loneliness and helping people to find joy and meaning in their life.
Reverend Douglas Green
David Shapiro, President & CEO