Reflecting on 20 Years of Service — December 10, 2015
My relationship with Clare Housing began more than 20 years ago. Just between you and me, truthfully I never expected that I would care so much about this organization. My journey began out of grief following the AIDS-related death of my husband’s best friend.
I couldn’t do anything for him, but I knew I could do something for others. And so I found Grace House, at that time a hospice, and signed up to cook for residents. I knew I could put a nourishing meal on the table. I didn’t realize how that experience would nourish me. If you’re a volunteer, I know that’s an experience you can probably relate to as well.
I never imagined those monthly meals would stretch out for 17 years, but they did. Six years ago, I hung up my apron and traded a chair at the dining room table for a seat on the board of Clare Housing.
Over my six years on the board — two years as chair — the accomplishments that I most treasure include the hiring of Chuck Peterson as executive director, and the creation of our strategic framework. With Chuck at the helm, and the strategic framework to guide the organization’s work, I am confident that Clare Housing will continue to be an exceptional organization.
And exceptional it has been from the beginning. If I had to tell you two descriptors that encapsulate the spirit of Clare Housing over my 20 years of involvement they would be “resident focused” and “responsive”. The state of HIV and AIDS has changed dramatically. Clare Housing has too.
When I began my volunteer work, Clare Housing was very much a place where people lived out their last days. It was a place to die with dignity. It has become a place to live with dignity. I still remember fondly Michael, one of the first residents to move out thanks to the power of a then new treatment. I saw him recently, and he is healthy and still singing in his local choir.
Clare Housing pivoted from hospice to ongoing Care Homes, and forged brand new supportive housing opportunities including its scattered site housing program, Clare Apartments, Clare Midtown, and now – Clare Terrace.
I expect and hope that in the next 20 years, Clare Housing will continue to be a responsive leader in our efforts to create an AIDS-free world built on a foundation of equitable access to housing and healthcare.
Thanks to YOU as my fellow supporter of Clare Housing, and thanks to Chuck, the board, and staff for making my time here such a rewarding experience. And finally, thanks to the residents who continue to be a source of strength and inspiration.
Departing Board President