“We all do better when we all do better”
- February 03, 2017
In Illinois and across the nation issues surrounding wealth and income inequality are raising increasing concerns. This year’s Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois Annual Gathering of Stakeholders addressed them head on.
New LCFS President and CEO Mike Bertrand set the tone by reminding attendees that “We’re called to continue to serve.” He acknowledged that Illinois is in bad financial shape, but LCFS will continue to shore up its financial position through operational efficiencies and new strategies that will hold the state of Illinois accountable. “(And) at the same time, we’ll be looking to expand on our core services (for the most difficult kids and families).” Bertrand also noted that the agency will continue the work it does in part by drawing in new resources through increased public awareness; “We do great work. Our clients do great things.”
Newly named as LCFS’ president and CEO, Bertrand said he’s been asked why he would want to lead a not-for-profit at this time. According to Mike, the answer is simple, “What else would I do? The need is greater than it ever has been out there.”
The co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois and the meeting’s keynote speaker, William McNary (pictured below), brought additional focus to and spoke eloquently about wealth and income inequality. He noted that, “We must challenge those public policies that were enacted to keep wealth in the hands of a few, while driving down wages at the bottom. And so we must enact policies that correct this injustice. We need to move from advocacy to activism.” McNary proposed we make this move in three ways: “Number one, we must fight for public-policy changes that correct economic injustice; Number two, we must strengthen our movement for democracy that shifts political power away from the few to the many. And finally, Martin Luther King’s last book he wrote was called, ‘Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?’ I suggest and propose we choose community.”
McNary concluded with a pointed challenge, “Will we right now today, reaffirm the basic Illinois ideal that, ‘Yes, we are responsible for ourselves, but we are also responsible for each other.’? I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper. We all do better when we all do better.”
Illinois Collaboration on Youth CEO Andrea Durbin received the LCFS Advocacy Award. She shared some thoughts on the Illinois budget crisis and reminded attendees, “With your help and your partnership, we can change this. We can prevail. We can make a difference. We can preserve and strengthen the mission of Lutheran Child and Family Services and all the other agencies just like it. We can build well-being for those in our communities so that they can give back. So that we can do what Mr. McNary exhorted us to do, which is that, ‘we all do better when we all do better.’ That’s the truth.”