With deepest gratitude…Thank you.

Sharon Pierce is the former president and CEO of The Villages. 

As my retirement becomes reality this month I’m thinking: How providential this last message I am privileged to write, as a part of The Villages monthly newsletter, happens to fall during April, CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH!

It doesn’t take long at all when working in the child welfare and family services arena, to realize the greatest gift we can EVER provide for a child is a strong, loving, safe, stable family. One that nurtures the soul both developmentally and emotionally, so children reach their full potential. Our hope and prayer always are that each child can flourish in THEIR OWN family of origin; but, often, that simply isn’t possible. If a child’s parents need help and support to be the kind of parent their own child deserves, a relative will frequently step in … a grandparent, aunt, uncle, older brother, or sister.  These people truly “Stand In The Gap” to be the nurturing caregiver a “child in need” deserves. And if there isn’t a relative able to embrace the child, The Villages foster parents selflessly open their hearts, their homes, and their lives to assure that, despite experiencing the trauma of child abuse and neglect, the child they welcome CAN and WILL overcome the adversity of experiences that NO child should have to endure.

Over the past 29 years, I have constantly been in awe of the child-centered, family-focused, culturally competent, high-quality array of services The Villages has continued to grow and develop. This was made possible because of our dedicated cadre of 300 staff members, more than 350 Villages foster families, and YOU, our partners and supporters! In the last two years, The Villages has touched the lives of 1,520 foster children, each with unique needs; has supported first-time parents throughout the state with 22,733 home visits through our Healthy Families Program; served as the “bridge to adulthood” for 1,199 Older Youth Services participants aging out of foster care; supported and sustained 134 kinship caregivers through the Family Connection Network; educated more than 6,266 individuals through Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and DADS Inc. programming; and provided adoption and post-adoption services to 3,051 families, over a five-year period. EVERY DAY, your support ensures The Villages is touching and changing for the better, the lives of 3,100 children!

Our phenomenal staff, our visionary board members, our energetic volunteers, and our devoted foster, adoptive, and kinship caregivers couldn’t begin to do this life-changing work without YOU … our generous partners, donors, and supporters. It is the gift of YOUR GENEROSITY (the presence of philanthropy) that enables The Villages, on a daily basis, to minimize and mitigate the injustice of disparities that are ever-present in our child welfare system. YOU are helping us create equity, opportunities, and brighter futures for EVERY child, youth, and family The Villages is so honored to serve …not just SOME children and families, but ALL children and families!

It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to partner with each of you through this “labor of love” we call The Villages!

May we, together, as The Villages Friends and Family, continue, ALWAYS, to ACT COMPASSIONATELY, SERVE HUMBLY,  AND LEAD COURAGEOUSLY!

My Deepest Thanks and Gratitude,

The Villages in the News: Healthy Families Program featured in Indianapolis Star
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The Villages in the News: Indy’s Child highlights foster parenting
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Foster parent retires after 20 years
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92% of every dollar goes directly to our kids.