I find myself wondering these days what, exactly, is it about us humans that makes it so easy for us to be afraid. We are terrified of anything that is different, or other, preferring instead the comfort of the familiar.
The infamous horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft, wrote in one of his most famous essays, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” My choice here is intentional, as his work was often centered in white supremacy, positioning the ‘other’ as ‘monster.’ He is, himself, a microcosm of the tendency we all have to fear those who are different.
Recently, President Biden announced a change in course to increase the U.S. cap on refugee resettlement. It was big news, and I mention it only because this month we mark World Refugee Awareness Month and World Refugee Day, celebrating those who flee remarkable adversity to begin a new life in a new country.
Obtaining refugee status is not an easy process, and it is different than that of migrants seeking asylum at our border. At Crittenton, we welcome refugee minors into our programs, offering stable and compassionate care. In my decades of experience in child welfare, I’ve seen how the worst of our nature can impact children. I’ve also seen the very best of humanity, and how compassion can change the trajectory of a child’s life.
So, when a young person is referred to Crittenton, our first question is, “How can we help?” Maybe we’re not the best option, but we often are. And in those situations, the only relevant information is how we might best be able to meet the needs of the individual standing in front of us.
It can, unfortunately, be very easy to fall into the pattern of seeing only our differences – seeing another person as a statistic, or a set of assumptions, or to get wrapped up in our own biases. It is easy to draw a line and rationalize why we shouldn’t be the one to walk beside this person, this child, and care for them. Their lives may be messy, the situation may be complicated, and this can be frightening. However, there is indescribable beauty in our diversity.
The staff at Crittenton don’t seek the comfortable path. Each one walks directly into the pain of another human being in order to build a connection and find a healing way forward. It is exhilarating. It is the reason we exist, but we can’t do it alone. We need brave community partners, volunteers, and donors who see past differences to embrace our shared humanity. And for years, our communities have joined our efforts to offer support to children in foster care, to families in crisis, to individuals facing mental health challenges, and to refugees. The work is messy, yes, but inspiring and so very important. We can’t thank you enough for saying ‘yes’: then, now and in the years to come.
Mr. Greg Eubanks, CEO, of Crittenton Services, has more than 25 years of experience in the child welfare and mental health fields as both a senior operating director and organizational leader for various nonprofits. He began his career in 1994 at a large multi-agency nonprofit headquartered in Texas where he continued to progress as Area Vice President. In 2014, he became President and CEO of a Seattle-based adoption agency until his most recent career appointment prior to Crittenton Services. Mr. Eubanks comes with a wealth of expertise in family preservation, community-based programs, strategic planning, program development, and performance management. In addition, he also holds a Master’s in Marriage, Family Counseling and Education, is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) Practitioner, and has been a speaker at national and international conferences.
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a nonprofit child welfare and mental health organization whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966, Crittenton has an experienced and dedicated workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive mental health services, shelter care, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a continuum of care programming effort that includes short-term residential, family preservation, integrated behavioral health, wraparound services, outpatient mental health, school-linked mental health, transitional age youth programming, and foster care services with a service plan area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties.