written and shared by William C. Bradford, Jr.
Good morning! I am William Bradford, and I am honored to be the first person to welcome you to the 21st annual Cherish the Children of God breakfast!
This event has become invaluable to our community and we are honored to have the opportunity to fellowship with each of you this morning. I want to extend thanks on behalf of the Volunteers of America Board of Directors, staff and volunteers to each of you, because each of you help to make our works possible.
Whether you are here for your first, tenth, or 21st time I urge you to keep coming because there is still work to do.
To our Table Captains, where would we be without you? Thanks to your efforts, we have 850 guests confirmed for today and I do not see many empty seats! That is 850 chances to change our community for the better.
In 2022, 8000 men, women and children chose to make their lives a little bit better. Those several souls walked through the many doors of the Volunteers of America –described as a church without walls – and used one or more of our many services including affordable housing for seniors and families; direct care for our neighbors with disabilities; behavioral health; academic assistance for children and teens; and a continuum of supports for Veterans in our community.
Truthfully, I would say 8000 served is an understatement. There are a few more that should be added to that number; beginning with my mother – a past Board member – my wife Sonja, and me. The countless volunteers, me included, benefit in great part from the everyday interactions that we enjoy with our Volunteers of America clients. From the LightHouse to Communities In Schools; from our Veterans Homes to the McAdoo; the days spent learning from members of every corner of our community has become an integral part of our existence.
Volunteers of America is rooted in the theory that this community can best help itself through philanthropy, volunteerism, and civic engagement. Our individual and corporate partners help to facilitate the very real success- stories that we see every single day. For example, our law firm, Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts, undertakes a weekly effort to support Communities In Schools with our partner school Werner Park Elementary. Some of you may recall a few years back, the story of Melissa Flores – a VOA kid. Well Melissa is now our firm president and continues to emphasize the importance of the Volunteers of America effort and our responsibility as civic leaders to offer meaningful contributions and mentorship to our youth.
All too often we read the headline about one of our young people, grown right here in our community, who has made a life changing decision that results in an outcome that creates a downward trajectory of his or her life, making our juvenile justice system all the more strained.
I firmly believe that one of the highest and most important callings is to serve as intercessors for our children before that headline is needed. How often do we sit around our dinner tables or our meeting tables and ponder solutions for an ailing world? I offer that the spark of change sits here before you.
With our help – all of us in this room today, Volunteers of America will continue with their proven track record of serving as change agents and work every day to rewrite what could be devastating headlines.
Today you will hear stories of success and stories of redemption. Carolyn Hammond carries the torch of leadership into her second year as President and CEO of Volunteers of America North Louisiana. She, along with her executive team, board of directors and network of staff all work to make more efficient every dollar that you and I, as donors so graciously give.
Thank you for being here today.
This is the first step toward a better tomorrow and a better Northwest Louisiana.