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We Must Join Together to Address Racism and Inequality

June 3, 2020

A message from Family Services’ President and CEO about the importance of fighting social inequality in our communities.

Dear Supporters, Partners, and Friends of Family Services,

As an agency with a mission to Protect, Heal and Care for vulnerable members of our community, Family Services cannot remain silent concerning the disturbing events of this past week.

With the senseless murder of George Floyd, old and festering wounds have been exposed, not just nationally, but here in Northeast Wisconsin as well. Guilty parties must be held accountable and we must move toward helping everyone in our community to understand why people of color continue to live in fear in this country.

Our responsibility is to listen and understand the needs of others more thoroughly. As a community and as individuals, we cannot turn a blind eye to the racism and inequality that has been with us since the founding of our nation. We must understand the systemic issues which contribute to people of color being over represented in our jails and prisons. We must understand the anger and fear that resurfaces every time we see instances of brutality and excessive force by those in authority.

Racism and inequality is our collective problem and not just a problem in Minneapolis or somewhere else. Rather than placing blame on one another, we must be willing to come together as individuals and as allies to solve these problems that continue to haunt us. As we have continually said during the COVID-19 crisis, we are in this together. These words are never truer or more necessary.

Paraphrasing a common expression from the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, we are called to action with these words – If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We must commit and we must commit now to be part of destroying racism and inequality in our communities.

Family Services continues to have a vision for our community and this vision is simple – “A community of thriving children, strong families and healthy individuals.” There is no better place to begin to realize this vision than by doing what we can to fight social inequality whenever and wherever we encounter it.

Please join us as we take on this most crucial challenge! Our actions must now speak louder than our words.  Together, we can Protect, Heal and Care.


Jeff Vande Leest
Family Services’ President & CEO