An open letter from VEAP’s CEO, Joe McDonald, and our DEI Team. If you have questions or feedback, please email Joe directly: [email protected]
In April 2019, VEAP’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Team held its first meeting, formally starting a movement to make our organization more diverse, equitable and inclusive. As part of our work, we are committed to speaking and acting out against systemic injustice and inequity that plague far too many people: members of the BIPOC community, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community, to name a few.
Our DEI work is driven by our common humanity and by our bonds to one another as fellow human beings, not by political beliefs or affiliations. We are guided by our strong conviction that every single person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and to be given equal access to the resources they need to thrive and pursue their dreams.
We acknowledge that our work alone cannot fix or eliminate all injustices and inequities, but we can and we will do the following:
- Provide food, housing and other supports to ensure basic needs in our community are being met
- Leverage our good reputation and position of leadership, based on our 48 years in the local community, to raise awareness of the disparities, gaps and inequities that marginalize and oppress so many people, and to advocate for policies, legislation and supports that benefit people who experience those inequities.
- Look in the mirror and do our own internal work—as individuals and as an organization—to make the necessary changes in order to better understand and reflect the rich diversity of the people who come to VEAP for healthy food, housing stability and supportive services.
We seek to create an environment and culture where all people feel like they belong, have a place, and can be themselves. We acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers and are committed to the hard work—and the time it takes—to learn more about ourselves and one another. And instead of assuming how we can best support our community with our food and housing programs, we will engage with our participants and community partners to provide strong and effective programs and services.
Over the coming months, VEAP will be releasing a series of informational posts with more context, statistics and stories about the inequities that are occurring in our state and local community. We will be providing opportunities for our followers to engage with this work in a deeper way, and we invite feedback, suggestions and comments along the way.
We are grateful for the opportunity to work for an organization that is having such a positive impact in the lives of so many people. We look forward to the ways VEAP will grow and improve as we work to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization and community.
Joe McDonald, VEAP CEO and VEAP’s DEI Team