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Celebrating Pride

Celebrating Pride

Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer

The month of June is celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride month, and while so many of the ways Pride month has been traditionally celebrated have been canceled due to COVID-19, I wanted to share a few thoughts about Pride.

First, Pride is about understanding and accepting who you are. Regardless of external validation, we owe it to ourselves to accept who we are individually, and personally. Pride isn’t just a celebration one month out of the year…it is a way of living year-round. For me, it’s about who I am all the time.

Secondly, Pride was about, and continues to be about equality, and civil rights. A leader in the civil rights movement, right along with Martin Luther King, Jr. was Bayard Rustin, a gay, Black man. It is so important to understand the intersectionality in our struggle for a better, more equitable society. Bayard Rustin said, ““You have to join every other movement for the freedom of people.” I believe, just as one of our values at One Hope United states, that our hope must be turned into action.

Third, Pride, while about equality and civil rights, is also about equitably providing services. As a child and family welfare service organization, One Hope United does not believe that just because an individual or couple is LGBTQ+ that they should be barred from providing foster care, or adopting, for example. And in our residential centers, we’ve worked to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth not only feel safe, but also have the support and respect needed from our staff.

Lastly, I believe that you should bring your full, whole self to every single circumstance, situation and experience. Be authentic. As an African American gay man, advocate, attorney and other characteristics, it is important that I bring all of myself to my mission building and mission movement service. I understand what it is like to be the “other” in the room- the only African-American, or gay man in a room, and I’ve not spoken my truth at times because of feeling inadequate. What I refer to as Identityphobia stifled my voice, presence and contribution. That is why I’m passionate about the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative at One Hope United.

However, you choose to embrace your identity, and have celebrated Pride this month, I hope you celebrate who you are every day.

Recognizing Juneteenth

Recognizing Juneteenth

Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer, President and CEO

 

As Juneteenth (June 19th) arrives tomorrow, it’s important that we remember what happened on this date in 1865.

Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to issue the following proclamation: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Juneteenth has become a day of celebration- Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day- as some call it. And while 47 states, and Washington D.C. recognize it as either a state or ceremonial holiday, the federal government has yet to make June 19th an official holiday. This must change. The federal government needs to recognize the importance of this event in United States history. By declaring Juneteenth as a federal holiday, the government will bring awareness to the history, and the contributions of African Americans in our country.

Some businesses have recently made Juneteenth a company-wide holiday. It is vital that organizations look internally at what they could and should be doing to address systemic racism and bias in their own companies- and also, how they can be investing in the communities in which they operate.

When I began leading One Hope United over a year ago, it was an important initiative of mine to make diversity, equity, and inclusion top priorities- not just because of the diversity of our staff, or of the clients we serve, but because it is the right thing to do. It was also the right action to take when we formed the internal Taskforce on Equity in Human Services. As Black Lives Matter protests sweep the nation, we at One Hope United understand that we have a unique intersection with human services and justice systems where we can advocate for necessary changes.

I’m proud of the fact, that within one week of announcing the taskforce, I hosted an open forum with OHU employees, to discuss the taskforce, its mission, and to hear their perspective on the inequities in the systems in which we engage. I look forward to continuing the conversation and leading the organization to turn our hope it into action. It is because of the diversity of who we are, we need to be deliberate about our evaluation of what we do- which is why we are not announcing Juneteenth as a One Hope United holiday this year. Our taskforce will have a rich dialog about how we observe Juneteenth organizationally.

Recognizing this event’s place in history is important and it’s inherent in the work we do that we have the ability to make our society a more equitable place. Addressing systemic racism doesn’t start with a federal holiday, it is necessary to commit to the work of being anti-racist and being pro-equity. Let’s move forward united in the hope of a brighter, and better tomorrow for all.

One Hope United Adds COO to Leadership Team

One Hope United has announced that on March 2nd, Antwan Turpeau will join the organization as Chief Operating Officer.

Antwan Turpeau has served as an Associate Deputy Director within the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, since February 2017, creating the Office of Delinquency Prevention. In that role, he oversaw the Shelter System, Human Trafficking Unit, and Dually Involved Youth Unit. Prior to his service at DCFS, Turpeau founded the nonprofit organization, Struggling Youth Equals Successful Adults, that focused on keeping older foster youth connected to support and resources through the age of 25.

“Antwan brings a personal passion, academic achievement, and many years of program delivery experience to One Hope United,” said Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, President and CEO of One Hope United. “We are very fortunate to have him join our leadership team and lend his expertise to our agency’s strategic direction.”

At OHU, Turpeau will lead its Residential/Day Treatment Services, Early Learning and Child Development programs, Counseling, Community Based Family Services and One Hope United’s Florida operations, serving nearly 10,000 children and youth in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin.

“I am very excited about being a member of the One Hope United team and family,” Antwan Turpeau said. “Charles’s vision for One Hope United inspired me to join the effort to use the organization’s 125-year-old foundation to build up and advance the children, families and staff we serve at OHU. It is my passion to work relentlessly to improve the quality of life of others who are in need of equal opportunities, excellent educational experiences, and high performing community-based services.”

Turpeau earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Elmhurst College and a Master of Social Work from Loyola University. In 2014, he was honored with Loyola’s Damen Award as social worker of the year.

A Black History Month Message From Our President and CEO, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer

“A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey

Since 1976, every U.S. President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. This is a time dedicated to reflecting and publicly thanking those African-Americans who have gone before us – showing strength and perseverance for what is right.

We are grateful for our ancestors’ optimistic attitudes, which were difficult to maintain during extremely challenging times in our history. Optimism and believing that things were going to be better have enabled us to move forward toward change. Our ability to believe in ourselves to overcome adversity has been a strength and testament of our will.

Black History is not just about learning about the challenges we as a people have been through. It is about our ability to have integrity, leadership, and determination in the face of our struggles.  Crisis does not necessarily make character, but it certainly helps to reveal it. Adversity creates strength in character and determination. A lesson to learn and celebrate as we chart our continued progress.

Black History month provides us with a moment to celebrate and rejoice in the tremendous changes we have experienced. At the same time, it is imperative that we recommit and learn from our past as to what has worked successfully so we can clearly identify what we still need to do. We want to take our rich history and reach beyond to inspire the next generations to continue to create and sustain positive change. This applies to working in human services- such as providing foster care, adoption, and other family and children support services.

As the President and CEO of a non-profit that serves over 10,000 diverse children and families, I am wholeheartedly determined to effect positive change. We must demand equity for all – regardless of race, ethnicity, different abilities, sexual orientation, or family composition. We all have the same inalienable rights and working together we can continue to achieve momentous success.  We at One Hope United are taking the opportunity to start the dialog about diversity and inclusion, at the upcoming Hope Academy sessions for our staff members.

As I look at areas that affect the populations who we serve at One Hope United, there has been some progress made for Black children in foster care. From 2007 to 2017, according to the Child Welfare Foster Care Statistics report published in 2017:

  • The number of Black children in foster care dropped from 31% to 23%
  • The number of Black children entering foster care dropped from 26% to 21%
  • However, the rate of Black children exiting foster care during the same 10-year period, dropped from 27% to 21%

In the education sector, according to a report from the Postsecondary National Policy Institute:

  • For Blacks, aged 25 to 29, only 23% held a bachelor’s degree in 2018, a growth of only 5% from 2000. In comparison, white students aged 25 to 29, during that same period, the number of who attained a bachelor’s degree, rose from 34% to 44%.

Along with foster care, and education, poverty is another area of concern. The poverty rate among Blacks is the highest of any racial or ethnic group; in 2018, the rate of poverty was 20.8%, according to census data. By comparison, the overall U.S. poverty rate in 2018 was 11.8%.

Representation in executive leadership is another area where we are under-represented. In a report from Race to Lead, published in 2017, less than 20% of nonprofits are led by people of color. And, only 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. are filled by Black people.

As African Americans we have come together to improve our communities and cities. There is still much to do. In our uncertain world, I take the challenge personally and professionally to accelerate change through respect and collaboration. I believe that success can be achieved with consensus leadership. Through partnerships, associations, collaborations, and teamwork- we increase our value together to unify and succeed.

Black History month still matters. Celebrating and studying Black History is part of American History. It is critical to our understanding our progress as a nation, recommitting ourselves and our leadership to celebrating and effecting positive change to making the world a better place for all. It is time to realize that the recognition of our history shouldn’t be limited to one month but celebrated year-round.

Hope In Action Gala

On October 24, One Hope United’s Board of Directors will host its signature fundraising event, the Hope In Action Gala. The theme this year is “A Legacy of Life Without Limits” which celebrates and recognizes the organization’s 125 years of impacting, serving, and investing in children and families.

The event will be held at the Epiphany Center For The Arts, at 201 S. Ashland Ave. The building, which is the site of the historic Church of the Epiphany, is currently being restored, and will be a center for entertainment, events, and art.

This year, One Hope United will recognize Jeanne Ward and Bill Taylor, with the Leadership in Giving Award, and Joyce and Rich Heneberry, with the Ermit Finch Impact Award.

After Hope In Action, the official after-event, Hope After Dark, which is hosted by the One Hope United Chicago Ambassador Board, will be held in the downstairs event space at Epiphany Center For The Arts.

Please visit https://onehopeinaction.org/ for more information about the program, to sponsor the event, or to purchase tickets to attend.