Dear Friends – Happy Pride!
As some of you know, I have officially retired from my role as Executive Director for Seattle Counseling Service (SCS). What an honor and privilege it’s been to lead this organization for 22 years. I’m reflecting on my early times with the organization and remember being “lured in” by the work at SCS after I met with the entire staff; back then we all fit around a big table.
I remember being in the interview process considering if this would be a good fit for me, and then after I met the staff, I seriously fell in love with the mission, the dedication, the work, and the people who carried out the mission of the organization every day with heart and hope to serve our community members. In that moment, I knew the service SCS and its staff provided to our LGBTQ community was vital, life-saving, life-changing work, and I wanted in!
And what a time it’s been! We have weathered lots of challenges and triumphed with lots of accomplishments. We have gone from a staff of 16 serving 300 community members in the beginning to a staff of over 60 serving almost 2,000 clients. The reach of our services has expanded with new programs that serve those hardest to reach and ultimately increased the number of folks we can see. We’ve engaged our community creating deep ties, and we continue to be a beacon of hope for folks in their most challenging times. Through all of it, I’ve continued to be grateful for the courage our clients have demonstrated in coming in for care.
Early on in my tenure, I remember being on a creaky elevator with a new client who was coming to SCS for their first time. He was young and seemed a bit anxious, but he stepped out into the lobby and saw our welcome sign and was greeted warmly by our front desk person. Although still a bit anxious, I could see him visibly relax a bit. SCS was a safe haven for him and thousands of others. That continues to happen daily. It takes courage and determination to engage in behavioral health services – I’m extraordinarily proud that SCS continues to be a “safe haven” for all of our LGBTQ community members.
However you choose to celebrate this month, I hope you each have an opportunity to appreciate how far we’ve come as a community and how much more we still have to do! For this moment though, let’s take a pause to celebrate our resilience and our pride in being part of this Beloved Community!
And finally, I want to thank each of you who might be reading this letter – thank you for your support over the years. SCS has relied on our community members to be cheerleaders, to refer people to the services, to support the work, and to care about these vital, life-saving, life-changing services SCS continues to offer every single day. Thank you for keeping SCS in your heart – this organization and its new leadership needs all of you as it moves into its next big chapter!
I will always have a place in my heart for SCS, and now, I join you all as a proud SCS cheerleader!
If you would like to make a gift to Seattle Counseling Service in honor of Ann’s 22 year legacy, please consider making a donation.
All honorary donations allow SCS to continue to provide affordable mental health and substance use recovery services to our LGBTQ communities. If you would like to make a planned gift or speak to someone about your gift, please reach out to Donny Willeto via email at email@example.com