Dear JCCA Colleagues,

We are all aware of the struggles our clients endure each day and the challenges they confront. The holidays give us greater pause to consider the painful absence of a loving family, or the poverty that prevents parents from providing their children with a special meal. This past year, families throughout our country have suffered catastrophic events—the devastating wildfires in California, and horrific shootings that were motivated by racism, anti-Semitism, and hate.

During such difficult times, your efforts to provide our vulnerable clients with stability, safety, kindness and nurturance assume even more significance. To those of you on campus and on call who share your time with our young people and their families during the holidays, I offer my sincere gratitude.

My thanks extends to our clients, who work diligently to overcome daunting obstacles. I think of Shaun, a 7-year-old at Pleasantville START, who has been a victim of physical abuse over the course of many years. Shaun has struggled with his own aggression toward peers and staff when he feels insecure, angry, or sad. Our remarkable START treatment team and Residential Youth Counselors have been working with Shaun to help him express his emotions in a safe, productive, and respectful manner using the Sanctuary model, Collaborative Problem-Solving, and sensory interventions. With their help, along with his own extraordinary resilience and focus, Shaun is now better able to engage his coping skills to deal with difficult situations and emotions. And happily, he is transitioning to the therapeutic home of his former babysitter, who has come forward to be his adoptive resource. She has loved Shaun and stood by him throughout his young life. My heart goes out to this little boy and to all of our clients who have been compelled to manage circumstances that sound implausible but are all too real. I am proud of them all.

On Thanksgiving, we all have an opportunity to reflect upon what we have to be thankful for. I am thankful that JCCA distinguishes itself every day in the world’s most dynamic city by offering more and more innovative ways to help our young clients and their families achieve stability and success. Indeed, I am especially thankful to all my colleagues for the joy you bring into our clients’ lives every day, and for your consistent dedication to repair the world, child by child.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy holiday,

Ronald E. Richter