A Time to Come Together: A Message from the CEO

Dear Birch Community Members

The horrifying death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer is yet another tragic reminder of the bias and violence against people of color that exist in our society. Like so many others, I was angered by the video – the aggression of one officer, the perceived indifference demonstrated by three other officers. This all too soon following the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. And yes, as New Yorkers, we’ve had our share of tragic incidents due to some of the policies of law enforcement, the tense relationship with communities of color, and the inherent bias embedded in our justice system.

At Birch, we provide supports and services for vulnerable citizens and their families — many of whom are people of color. All of our work, together, is based on our commitment to the concept that every individual is empowered to participate in and have access to the full benefits of our society, including the protections of social justice. Unfortunately, we, as a society, have often failed our black and brown communities. What we are seeing across our city and the country is that people are sad, angry, and demanding change. Many of us may be experiencing those feelings as well.

As an organization, we value diversity and inclusion above all. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We must work together to continue to provide an environment where every person is valued for who they are and feel safe and supported at all times. And, most importantly, we must continue to stand together when any member of our community faces racism, discrimination, bigotry, or oppression and demand accountability.

We must do all we can to ensure these values are furthered, while continuing to keep ourselves and those we support safe. We are mourning friends, family and people we support lost to COVID-19. Many have been impacted financially through lost jobs and remain concerned about the future. Sadly, the physical distance from each other makes it more challenging for us to come together to support each other. We applaud those who have raised their voices and support their passionate but peaceful protests.

Birch Family Services remains open for the individuals and families who require our support and services in our schools, residences, and community-based programs. While many supports and services are being provided virtually, we remain committed to our mission – empowering individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to lead fulfilling lives. Thank you for your ongoing support of our work. Please be safe and remain in good health during these challenging times.

Matthew Sturiale, LCSW
President & CEO
Birch Family Services