On September 23, Beech Brook hosted the 169th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors. Due to COVID safety concerns, the gathering was limited to board members only. Here are Tom's remarks from the meeting...

I’d like to say that this is an annual meeting unlike any other during the past 169 years, but that may not be accurate. I imagine the first meetings were somewhat like this one during the cholera epidemic.

Beech Brook continually amazes me. I have personally seen so much change and adaptation over the last 30 years, let alone the change that has occurred over the last 169 years. It is a testament to the organization that we have the courage and ability to meet the challenges of the day, every day, no matter how hard they are. In just my time at Beech Brook, I have witnessed the organization evolve from a primarily residential provider, based on this campus, manually completing all tasks, and fully reliant on bricks and mortar, to a largely community-based organization with the technological ability to work remotely, without walls. And while no one saw this last challenge coming, we are still thriving.

To really thrive in the face of a global pandemic, and while suffering setbacks like failing to sell the property, it takes all of us, invested in heart and mind. This has been a mighty group effort. From the Board making difficult budget and policy decisions, to the staff who transitioned the agency into a fully remote workforce in just seven days, to the people who support the services we provide, and those staff who took on personal risk to make sure that our children and families had the food and technology they needed to attend school remotely … all in addition to their regular jobs of making sure that families were healthy and stable. Everyone rose to the challenge.

None of us asked for these extreme challenges on our watch. But when they came, we took them on, and we continue to help make our community a better place in both new ways and old.

In many ways, Beech Brook has been left with the task of picking up the pieces of broken lives, shattered and scattered even more by the pandemic. We all know that low social connection makes people more vulnerable to anxiety, depression and anti-social behavior. But, oddly, in some ways, the pandemic has brought us closer together.

This year, despite the pandemic, the obstacles it has created, and the other setbacks which we have suffered, Beech Brook delivered on our promise to help children and families thrive. And in some ways, we are emerging stronger and closer than ever before.

I am grateful for that. And I am proud of the people who work at Beech Brook and the people who support Beech Brook. If ever there was a time that would challenge our togetherness, this was it. And we have passed that test.

There will be more challenges ahead, no doubt. There always are. But I can confidently say that our founders and forbearers would be proud of Beech Brook today and how we have risen to the challenges of our time like they did in theirs.

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