Dear JCCA Colleagues,

Father’s Day is a complex holiday, not only for our clients, but for many of us as well. For some, it’s a joyful opportunity to celebrate the father figures in our lives. For others, just like Mother’s Day, it can be a painful reminder of those who have lost — or perhaps never had — a dad.

As a dad, my heart is full this Father’s Day. I am also fortunate to have a wonderful father of my own. But neither my father nor I had a traditional path to our happy families. He fled the Nazis as a child after losing his father at a very young age, and the trauma of his separation and eventual reunion with his mother has significantly influenced my work in child welfare. And as many of you know, my daughter has two dads. It is a meaningful coincidence that Father’s Day falls smack in the middle of Pride Month.

Today is not just important in my personal life, but in my professional one too. We know well the stories of kids with absent, incarcerated, or abusive parents, and it can be dispiriting to watch images on TV of Father’s Day promotional sales for barbecues or neckties. We also know how ridiculous the traditional idea of a dad is because we have so many examples of father figures who don’t match the profile. Foster dads, gay dads, family members, teachers, or mentors can all fit the bill, regardless of genetic relationships or gender identity. We recognize all of them today. We also recognize the efforts of so many of you to make sure our clients have those figures in their lives. It’s not easy, but it means a great deal to me. I am hopeful that we all try hard to consider each of our clients’ relationships with the person they consider their “father,” and to support them in these relationships.

It would be easy, yet irresponsible, to leave all this unsaid. Whether your heart is joyful or heavy (or a combination of the two), I wish you a meaningful Father’s Day.

Ronald E. Richter, CEO