A note from President and CEO David Dennis and Board of Directors Chair Dennis Hardiman:
Fifty years ago, Jack and Ruth Eckerd began a small outdoor therapeutic camp for young people who needed a second chance. Today, that camp has grown to become a national, 160-program non-profit organization operating in 20 states and the District of Columbia. While our beginnings lie in child-based services, we now work to serve the whole family. By extending our reach, I hope that over the next 50 years we can effect real change for communities across the country: pairing foster children with caring families who open their homes; aiding teens who’ve exited the justice system and are in search of a second chance; and training hard-working people so they can secure well-paying jobs and support their families.
I have the privilege of visiting these programs, getting an up-close look at the work taking place to improve neighborhoods around the country. Some examples of this dedicated spirit:
Sebrena is working hard with her team in the Bronx to connect young people with challenging backgrounds to jobs and internships.
A Florida foster care sibling group of nine was recently matched with a family that adopted them all so that they can stay together.
Anna, a former dislocated adult worker, graduated from our workforce program in Charleston, South Carolina and is now working in the medical field instead of dead-end temp jobs that were taking a toll on her body.
Teens in Arlington, Texas are leaving the juvenile justice system with the hope and guidance they need to take steps toward improving their futures.
I am so proud of the work we are doing each day to honor the legacy of our founders while evolving to better serve our communities.
For much of our staff, the Eckerd Connects mission is a personal one. We have remained motivated over the past fifty years because we care so deeply and personally about our communities. We have directors, coaches, teachers, and specialists whose lives exemplify our organization’s mission – they’ve adopted children, overcome work displacement, and used their triumph over trauma to help homeless adults and struggling teens who need guidance and understanding. Our individual testimonies drive our collective work, and that passion allows us to service more than 34,000 people each year.
The support we receive from our donors directly helps us to address some of the most critical problems in our communities by crafting amazing, innovative solutions. Each investment impacts not only the well-being of our communities, but it empowers and equips us to change policy. We are devoted to doing what we can do to have a lasting, multi-generational effect. We appreciate you because your prayers, donations, and volunteered time enable us to have a greater reach with very tangible results. And it’s about more than growing our organization.
It’s about healthy kids.
It’s about strong communities.
It’s about opportunity.
While we look to the past to celebrate all we have been able to accomplish, we remain a forward-thinking organization… because our greatest work lies ahead.
Here’s to the next 50 years.