By Jeff Carr, CEO, Albertina Kerr
The events of the last three weeks have been a vivid reminder of the challenge we face in our communities and in our country to ensure the dignity of every person. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others are just a present-day reminder that we are still far short in achieving equal treatment for all members of our community, and black people and other people of color continue to bear the burden of systemic injustice and racism.
Albertina Kerr’s vision is that all people thrive in nurturing and inclusive communities. It’s a vision that we hope to see lived out in the broader society in which we live, and we must start by making sure our own culture helps this vision manifest. Kerr has served vulnerable Oregonians for over 113 years. While I am sure that at times we have missed the mark in treating everyone with the compassion, dignity, and the respect they deserve, over all these years we have never stopped seeking to improve. We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate the differences and commonalities that make our community – inside of and around Kerr – dynamic and rich, and we support the practice of justice, liberation, and peace in engagements with one another.
In the ancient Greek language there are two different words for “time”. One is “chronos,” chronological or sequential time, or the kind of “time” we keep on a clock or the calendar. It’s just the record of the events of the day. The other word is “kairos”, by which the Greeks believed was a right, critical, or opportune moment. It signified an opportune time for action.
We are at an inflection point in our history as a country, and I believe it can be a “kairos” moment for all of us if we listen to each other, value the experience of those that are different than ours, and do the work necessary to ensure that we are truly becoming a nurturing and inclusive community at Kerr. We are committed to healing ourselves and each other and to creating with our Kerr community and external partners a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. It will not be easy. It will not happen quickly. It will not be accomplished by just a few. It will require all of us, together, over the long haul to bring us closer to our vision.
Since 1907, Kerr has been strengthening Oregon families and communities. Today, Kerr empowers people experiencing intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and other social barriers to lead self-determined lives and reach their full potential.