In mid-April 2020, State Representative Chris Welch, whose 7th District includes the area where our Hillside office is located, called on big banks to remove the restrictive, if not outright discriminatory policies that were preventing funds from the newly created federal Paycheck Protection Program from reaching small business – especially small businesses of color. Within just a few months, he would introduce legislation demanding corporate diversity and emerge not only as a strident advocate for minority-owned and women-owned and operated businesses, but for the cause of racial and social justice.
In many ways, his work during that period paralleled Aunt Martha’s efforts to ensure greater equity and representation, from leadership to the frontline, within organizations whose primary consumers are people and communities of color. It is an effort to which I am wholly committed, and one which we will see through as an organization. State Representative Welch – now Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives – shares that commitment and recognizes both the hardline we have drawn and the example Aunt Martha’s continues to set as a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion.
In fact, I had the privilege of meeting with Speaker Welch twice over the past week, once at his district office in Westchester and then, more briefly, in Springfield, where he stopped to take the photo below.
Acknowledging Aunt Martha’s Impact
Other than his time, there was no ask from me. My intention on both occasions was to share the latest information about our work and impact in the communities we serve together. Yet in both our meetings, Speaker Welch volunteered his appreciation for Aunt Martha’s work, acknowledging in particular:
- Our leadership in action and public advocacy for greater diversity in healthcare;
- The important role we continue play in the state’s pandemic response; and,
- Our innovative approach to integrated primary care and behavioral health services, especially within the child welfare space.
He’ll have an opportunity to see our integrated model in action when he visits our Integrated Care Center later this year. I know he will be impressed with what he sees, especially by the people whose knowledge, experience and personal compassion make it work.
Recognizing our employees
I’ve shared the Speaker’s sentiments with our employees. I share them with you because they are an important reminder of the support their work continues to earn, each and every day. It is important for our employees and our supporters to know that Aunt Martha’s work is recognized and valued by leading public officials like Speaker Welch. It is recognized and valued by external experts, as is reflected by our successful HRSA visit earlier this year and our Joint Commission re-accreditation last month. And it is recognized and valued by the people who matter to us most – Aunt Martha’s patients, clients and participants