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A Reflection on the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

This year, as we celebrate the work of Martin Luther King Jr., his legacy seems more important than ever.

This has been a remarkable year in which the country has been forced to confront the stark reality that we still have so much more work to do to ensure that the values of justice, equity, dignity, and inclusion are truly part of the fabric of our society, supported in policies and actions by our institutions, and evident in our everyday behavior.

For those of us in community behavioral health and disabilities services, Dr. King’s messages are not only about discrimination based on racial and ethnic differences, but also about discrimination based on the gender identification of the individuals we serve and staff, and/or their behavioral health challenges or disabilities.

Our obligations are therefore to ensure that our mission and our values of freedom from discrimination and open and equal rights and opportunities are evident in every aspect of our organization’s work with all of our employees and people served.

Toward that end, this year Vinfen launched a major new initiative to ensure that we are doing all we can to ensure our organization is actualizing those values.

In the summer, we established a Diversity and Inclusion Council with representatives from all levels of the workforce throughout Vinfen who have been actively engaged in a more detailed and honest self-evaluation, and in developing plans to ensure our policies and actions fully support our stated values and intentions.

The focus began with and continues to be concerned with racial and ethnic equity and inclusion, but includes all of the issues noted above.

The Council has an ambitious agenda, which will include more actions to engage staff in participating in this initiative and engage our senior leaders in supporting the recommendations, which will shape Vinfen’s policies and practices.

And despite the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been making progress.

We will be publishing more about this in the coming weeks and months and inviting our employees and stakeholders to get involved.

And on this annual celebration of the life and contributions of Dr. King, I hope that you all will take some time, as I will, to participate in some activities that remind us of the depth and scope of the problems we still face as a country, but also the hope Dr. King conveyed in his “Dream” of a life free from discrimination and open for opportunities for a full and valued life for all of us.