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Jul 08

Director's Message: Safety Net

Posted to Community Services News on July 8, 2022 at 3:57 PM by Jessica Harris

Safety Net 

Honesty moment. I am an eternal idealist dressed in pragmatic clothing. There are many days, however, as a professional and human that I feel exhausted trying to just think about the solutions necessary to truly “fix” the challenges that face us. The issues of poverty, housing, public safety, education all are so overwhelming that at times it can feel discouraging because it feels impossible to eliminate. This has often made me ponder whether the daily emergency and triage of services that we offer to assist with the symptoms of these massive ills really is helping at all.

Luckily, I am frequently reminded of the importance and necessity of creating a system that both addresses the immediate needs and commits to eliminating and preventing the underlying conditions that create these needs. Without first being able to address a family’s needs for housing, utilities, or trauma, how would we ever be able to support interventions for the root causes? Just this week, I received a reminder from a resident that, without the hope that came from the financial assistance for housing that she received, she wasn’t sure if she could keep going. She reminded me that the Division of Community Services is that safety net that gave her what she needed at the time to keep moving towards her goals for her family. She reminded me that this work is 100% necessary and does make a difference.

In this month’s issue, I invite you to read about some of the many ways that the Division of Community Services serves as a safety net for Shelby County residents. While this team works hard to create, maintain, and continually improve this safety net, it in no way diminishes our collective effort and passion to be a part of the disruption and eradication of the systems of poverty, inequity, and injustice that create the need for our work. For all of you fellow idealists out there, I hope that this month’s issue reminds you that you can and should commit to both as well. Balancing both makes the impossible a great deal more probable. Keep pushing!

Dorcas Young Griffin
Director of the Division of Community Services
Shelby County Government