From Laure Clemons, Extended Family Executive Director
No matter where you stand on this planet, your world has changed. I stand on a mountain-top in northeast Alabama. Just like you, I’m making daily changes according to the daily updates on the current coronavirus pandemic.
Almost every company and organization has put out a statement related to this abrupt change in our lives. These statements give advice, make promises, and may even try to sell you something!
Until now, I’ve had no desire to release an Extended Family statement – simply because we do not have a solution to the current pandemic problem.
It is true that we work with families of the incarcerated, including their children. We deal with people in crisis, and point them toward solutions in their own community. We teach children how to cope with the stressors involved with family incarceration. We watch those students leave stigma behind, hold their heads up high, and say to each other, “It’s not your fault!” But why would any of this work prepare us to make a statement to a world facing unprecedented challenge and change?
Then I read this statement on leadership. “James Witt wrote: ‘Although it seems unreasonable, unfair and impossible, it is the role of the leader to be many things at many times. In crisis, a leader must be visible, poised, courageous, committed, and attentive. At no other time is a leader’s character more on trial; he must lead and do it well. He must understand that people need to see him and hear him face the challenge head on, even if it puts him at risk.’” From Brady Weldon Blog Post
As Extended Family’s leader, my goal is to be “visible, poised, courageous, committed, and attentive.” So I’m stepping up to make our statement. It isn’t a solution to the pandemic. It is simply our statement of Purpose. It is our statement of survival. And I would argue, it is the statement of every good non-profit out there right now.
Non-profits don’t work for a corporation. We work for a cause.
Non-profits are here every day, rain or shine, at the office or at the home office. We pour ourselves into the Purpose to which we are called. The thought of letting ANYTHING stop us, doesn’t stop us. We find a way. We pitch in. We help each other.
Non-profits take the grantors’ funds and the donors’ dollars and make that money stretch like silly putty. We use and re-use supplies. We put volunteers to work and thank them with a handshake (or an elbow bump!)
Extended Family’s Purpose is “To teach families of prisoners, including their children, how to successfully adjust to a new way of life.” That Purpose is still at work today – in the middle of a pandemic. We are planning new student programs and updating old ones. We are processing data related to children of the incarcerated. We are putting good news on Facebook. We are checking in with researchers around the country on projects related to family incarceration. We are talking to family members of prisoners and answering questions. We are updating the 200-plus resources on our Resource Database. We are virtually meeting with our Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers to collect their vision for Extended Family’s growth.
We are making the most of the time we have. I would propose that all good non-profits are doing the same.
So no matter where you stand on this planet, your world has changed. The good news is, non-profits like Extended Family have remained. We are Purpose-driven. We are focused on our cause. And nothing - not even a pandemic - can take that away from us.