August 2015: Only a family can build stronger families

I settled into the bleachers with the other parents at the girls’ softball game, happy to have my focus on something lighter than the issues we deal with at work. My daughter, Maya, has had a great season that’s been fun to watch, and I was primed to cheer her on. It was not to be.

The dad next to me arrived at the game from a funeral, and he needed to talk. The funeral was the result of an unspeakable tragedy that had befallen a staff member at an agency where this dad was chair of the board. The tremor in his voice and the tears in his eyes, as he told me the story, revealed the deep personal investment this board member has in the agency he serves.

As I listened with horror and sympathy, the story changed. His voice strengthened and his mood lifted as he told me about the therapist who came to the agency to help the staff find their way through the early stages of grief and loss. The therapist was there because the agency had the foresight to provide an employee assistance program (EAP) as a benefit to its staff.

He told me how great both the program and the therapist were, and how the staff members were effusive in their praise and in saying how helpful, how important the program was to them. I nodded in agreement, while wishing more employers would learn about EAPs and see the wisdom in their use. But when he said, “Everybody just loved the therapist – Greg was his name. He was fantastic.” I smiled.

I smiled because Greg is FSM’s own Greg Chism, director of our EAP program. I smiled because it was good to have my own impression of Greg confirmed by the people Greg serves. I smiled because it is great to hear about the healing that FSM is doing in our community. This is why FSM exists; this is why we do what we do.

This is why we’re inviting you to help with the healing. Individual heroes, like Greg, are important – and we have a lot of them on staff at FSM – but they are not enough. Service agencies, like FSM, are important, too, but they are also not enough. We are necessary, but insufficient. You, and others like you, are what completes the picture.

Healing, building strong families, is a community thing, a “family” thing in the broadest sense of the word. Join us, if you can, on the 13th, but – more importantly – join us every day, join us in your heart and in your thoughts. Support FSM with your time, your effort, your checkbook. Support FSM, too, in your conversations at work, at church, in your club, among your friends, wherever an opportunity presents itself. Let’s grow this family to build stronger families.