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A Word from the President

December 22, 2008

The Keystone Family

Dennis W. Felty
Dennis W. Felty
President, KHS

In March 1979, I left my home not knowing if I would ever return. As I drove northwest to State College with my wife and two children, I felt a creeping sense of uncertainty about the future. Yet I also had confidence that even if I never returned home, I would be able to forge a new home for my family because I was not alone. As I drove west, I followed a convoy of cars filled with other members of the Keystone family, all leaving their homes. All uncertain of the future but sure of one thing: wherever we ended up living, we were a family, supporting each other and united in a common purpose.

Keystone was still a small, relatively new organization when the nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant caused us to leave our homes. In the early morning hours on March 28, 1979, a nuclear reactor overheated, causing a partial meltdown. The surrounding communities, including Keystone, waited in fear as officials tried to determine whether the damage would release radioactive materials into the atmosphere – radioactive materials that could cause unspeakable death and destruction and turn the community into a ghost of what it was.

Instead of waiting for an official order to leave, we decided to voluntarily evacuate Keystone and travel together to safety at a hotel in State College. It was a moment that could have been charged with anxiety and fear, yet we found strength in each other. While we waited at the hotel for news of Three Mile Island, my daughter learned to walk, and everyone present clapped and encouraged her. It was then that I knew we would be able to face any challenges together. Our group of co-workers and their families had bonded together and found joy in each other’s accomplishments. We became one large, collective family, committed to caring for and supporting each other. I recognized that family is not tied to a physical location. It is something we create and it exists in the bonds we form with each other. When the Three Mile Island crisis ended and we returned to our homes, we felt a renewed sense of calling and strong ties to each other.

Our experience in 1979 still resonates with us today. Keystone is a family, and family and the enriching relationships we form with each other are at the heart of everything we do. Whether we are preserving families at risk of dissolution, reuniting or newly uniting individuals with their families or foster families, or helping individuals join the collective family of the community, we strive to bring people together under a common vision. When we combine our resources, we become stronger and can better serve each other. I invite you to join our Keystone family. Together through the strength of our relationships, we can truly fulfill the timeless mission of humanity to support each other and create a safer world built on acceptance and respect for everyone.


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