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Dennis W. Felty President, KHS

Dennis W. Felty

Keystone Human Services, Annual Meeting 2004

November 17, 2004

Welcome to Keystone Human Services’ 32nd annual meeting.

This year we are celebrating “service to others” … an issue that is at the center of Keystone Human Services’ Vision and Mission. Of particular interest this evening are the people who make an enduring and long term commitment to selfless service to others particularly those who offer their time, talent and commitment as Servant Leaders.

“The idea of Servant Leader emerges out of Herman Hess’s Journey to the East. In this story we hear of a band of fellows on a mythical journey, probably a metaphor for Hesse’s own personal journey. The central figure of the story is Leo who accompanies the party as a servant and who does the menial chores, but who also sustains the group with his strong spirit and melodious song. He is a person of great presence. All goes well until one day Leo disappears, the group falls into disarray and the journey fails. They cannot make it without their dedicated servant. The narrator, one of the party, after many years of aimless wandering is taken into the Order that sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo, whom he has known only as a servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble servant leader.” [1]

What Hess is telling us is that Leo was always the great leader, however he was a servant first and that fact is what made him such a unique and effective leader. At his core was the desire to serve others. His leadership was offered free of ego and personal self interest it was a leadership born of pure servanthood.

Gathered here tonight is an uncanny number of Servant Leaders, people who have dedicated their lives to quietly making the world a better place, for no other reason than it is work that needs to be done, working minute by minute, hour by hour serving some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Unfortunately, in our consumer driven culture, the word “service” has become overused and I’m afraid its true meaning has become diluted, and even distorted. So I stand here before you this evening, trying to imbue the word “service” with renewed integrity and substance, while reminding us of the selfless principles and inclusive tenets that inspired its origins.

A famous philosopher once said, “A social conscience without personal relationship is like cut flowers … rootless and soon to wither.” This quote captures the essence of your commitment to service,” because there can be no integrity of human service without deep roots and personal relationships.

True, with enough monetary and material resources, any agency can deliver what appears on the surface to be quality human services. Meals can be prepared, transportation can be provided, homes can be perfectly appointed. Yet, what distinguishes Keystone’s excellence is the profound level of humanity that is freely given in your personal human service. Indeed, what good are human services if there is no personal relationship to bind people to people?

Furthermore, what good is “person-centered planning” if no one stays long enough to really know the person and to know whether or not dreams are really being realized? To truly empower an individual, it is necessary to share in that person’s everyday life, in their dreams in their successes and in their challenges.

I ask you … who here can deny the fact that half the joy of achieving success is sharing that success with other people who care?

Certainly, quality services require skills and training. But, even the most developed skills and state-of-the-art training can never compensate for an absence of personal relationships. Continuity of care and enduring services is what defines Keystone’s success. In our Vision, we speak of fostering enduring relationship building community and strengthening families. All of these ideals require committed, long term personal relationships.

Tonight we will be recognizing 104 employes with over 15 years of service. 26 have served for more than 20 years and of thoes seven have served for more than 25 years and includes; Paula Davenport, Janelle Graham, Nancy Greenway, Mark Ritter, Susan Rowell, Jona Rowlands and Carol Sipe.

This group of 104 outstanding individuals live exemplary lives as servant leaders. The skill, vision, leadership and focus that they bring to their work, applied with consistency for decades, is changing the world in important ways.

All of the servant leaders present this evening, our Board members, our Officers, program managers, direct support professional staff, clinicians, administrative professionals, spouses and volunteers are the shinning points of light of Keystone.

One of the tests of servant leadership is that like Leo, can you see the light of the servant’s spirit shine on the person being served? One of the privileges of my role with Keystone is to visit programs and the people we support. As you know I often photograph you and in many of those photographs, the light of your servant leadership shines bright in the joy and deep connectedness of the relationships captured in the image of the photograph.

Some credit our excellent training for the remarkable growth of services. Others credit superior recruitment standards. But I believe there is more. In any human service endeavor, there must be examples of dedication and self-sacrifice that sets a lofty standard for others to follow. There have to be beacons of hope and inspiration to raise the level of service for which Keystone is noted.

Because of experienced and dedicated servant leaders such as Don Whitman, Mary Kratzer, Chuck DeHart and Rich Huber, all of whom have provided decades of service in support of Keystone’s work, Keystone Human Services is rich with examples of enduring service. These individuals and many more like them make certain we remain in touch with our humanitarian roots. Clearly Keystone’s legacy of service demands an enduring and unwavering commitment at every level, from our most revered leaders to our most respected Direct Support Professionals.

With your enduring commitment to service, Keystone will continue to represent human services at its best. At Keystone, we understand how stability and relationships are what shape every individual’s daily experience. At Keystone, we understand that there can be no dignity, no fulfillment, no sense of belonging without personal trust and committed relationships. This, my friends, is the difference between human service and lip service.

Each year I find myself referencing one of my favorite quotes by Bruce Springsteen,

“Day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, there are ordinary people who use their own freedom to work for the freedom of others.”

All of you gathered here this evening, work selflessly for the freedom of others. You are also part of a rich history of sacred yes’s. These yes’s have occurred over the last 34 years of Keystone’s history. In times of great need, you have said "yes" to freely sharing your time, your resources, your knowledge and your capacity.

One of those "yes"’s occurred last month. Our Russian colleagues asked us to assist psychologists and psychiatrists working in Beslan with the children and families that were wounded in the horrific attack on the school on September 1st.

Expertise and training in trauma counseling and post traumatic stress intervention was desperately needed.

That knowledge was resident within Keystone Children and Family Service’s - Student Assistance Program. As most of you know this program provides trauma counseling and consultation to 19 local school districts when tragic student deaths occur as the result of suicide, car accidents and at times murder. When the staff of our student assistance program were asked if they would be willing to go to Russia to help in Beslan many said yes.

Connie Kennedy and Ann Tapman were two of the people who said yes and they began preparing material, planning the training and overseeing the translation of material into Russian.

On October 15th Ann and Connie left for Russia and conducted a two week seminar and consultation for 10 psychologist and psychiatrists from Beslan and 40 from Moscow.

They heard stories of profound horror and great heroism from there colleagues. Many of the participants worked in the morgues after the attack helping families identify their children through tattered shreds of clothing. Some were present when the bombs went off and at great personal risk entered the school and carried out wounded children.

When any of you like Connie and Ann say yes, you honor all of us gathered here this evening who say yes in both small and large ways on a daily basis. Your individual and often private yes’s become part of Keystone’s collective yes and you contribute to a rich and continuing history of working to create a better world.

1 Servant Leadership, Robert Greenleaf


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