Crisis Services began in November 1968.
In our community, and across the world, there was unrest about the Vietnam War, women’s liberation, and racial inequality. Here we are, five decades later, in this moment that reminds us of our founding mothers and fathers, at a time when our actions and approaches will define history.
Our founders wanted to ensure that anyone facing crisis did not do so alone, and in the midst of this unrest and discontent coming to a boil, our agency was born.
I serve the role as Crisis Services’ CEO and in this moment, I reflect on our founders and their determination for our community – then and now – that no one goes this alone, that we stay present through the crises of our neighbors, and stand rooted in our mission as we hold the urgent needs of our community.
The various levels of trauma we are experiencing, particularly among Black people, are impacting our health and well-being. In the day-to-day work of our crisis first responders, we lean in and listen, we connect help with need, and instill the kind of hope that aims to reduce harm to self and others. What is occurring in our community and across the globe is a collective moment that demands systemic change that is critical for the safety and well-being of our Black community — an ongoing cry that just happens to fall smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic. To say these are turbulent times is an understatement.
The hate, racism, brutality, and violence has to stop and it begins with us.
At Crisis Services, we — like so many well-intended community organizations — strive towards diversity and inclusion, but we know, especially in these moments, that we need to reflect and determine how we can do better. Our community deserves better. Every day, we witness the impact of trauma, abuse, violence, and silent suffering and what it does to the soul of an individual.
Discrimination, oppression, racism, violence, stereotyping, bigotry and prejudice have no place at Crisis Services, period.
Our crisis first responders serve roles as advocates, educators, navigators of institutional systems that stigmatize those impacted by interpersonal and community violence, mental illness, addiction and trauma. We have a history of working within criminal justice systems to stand for the rights of victims, to push for mental health responses that advocate for jail diversion over cyclical imprisonment that disproportionately impacts and endangers Black lives, and the critical role we play in educating law enforcement on de-escalation strategies to reduce the harm caused by physical force when responding to an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. We take our role in saving and protecting precious life seriously through just actions, fair treatment, and trauma-informed responses.
Our mission is our message, our service is our action, and we will continue to honor our founding mothers and fathers to ensure we are here for anyone, at any time, as crisis impedes an individual’s health, safety, and quality of life, especially for systemically marginalized communities who experience these crises with greater frequency, steep consequences and, frequently, the loss of life. My dedicated, determined staff and I hold dearly onto hope for our all of us, that our commitment to action, and not just words, will move our community forward with love and true freedom from suffering.
Jessica C. Pirro, CEO