As we come to the close of another year, we wanted to share a story with you from the CEO of Victor, Douglas Scott. The image of the plaque you see is a “thank you” to the staff in Santa Rosa CA for exemplifying the Victor way during the incredible wildfires that changed the face of Santa Rosa in October. Here is what Doug had to say:
“In the mental health services industry there is a lot of pressure to develop and present data to prove that what we do works; that data and statistics are the most important thing to present to people. Amidst this pressure, is an implied message that our stories don’t matter. The belief is that stories of our successes are self-serving and limited. I beg to differ. Our stories matter.
On November 1st I made a visit to our Santa Rosa Residential and School Programs. This city, the surrounding county, and our programs were all heavily impacted by massive fires that took many lives and burned the homes and businesses of thousands of people. The pictures on the news cannot convey the horrible destruction or the mind-boggling reality of seeing entire neighborhoods in the middle of a city totally burned to the ground.
As I drove into Santa Rosa over the hills, the devastation was at first sporadic and contained in the hills. However, very quickly, I entered an area where every home was gone. The only remnants of the families that lived there were metal barbecues, burned out cars, swing sets, and fireplace chimneys. I have heard the phrase “it looks like a bomb went off” many times on the news, for many disasters, and this is all I could keep thinking of. The devastation is impossible to grasp without being there. As I drove to a staff party at Round Table Pizza, I felt deep sadness for the lives impacted.
However, as the day went on, I met with residential and school staff, toured the destruction, and I heard stories.
I heard a story about how staff formed texting groups in the middle of the night in order to check in on each other and discuss how to get to work.
I heard a story about the city being evacuated, with everyone heading south, and the only cars heading north were our staff and emergency vehicles.
I listened to a story of a staff riding their bike to work, through smoke and ash, so that they could evacuate kids and vehicles from our homes.
I heard a story of a staff who was offered shelter in the homes of two other staff.
I heard stories of staff showing up to work in the early morning hours, bringing their children with them so that they could keep their children and ours safe.
I heard stories of the program leadership making hundreds of calls to ensure that all kids and staff were safe and getting needed support.
I was told of staff who asked to stay around the clock, far from their homes, in order to meet the needs of the kids we were forced to evacuate out to the coast.
In the midst of chaos, flames, and smoke, our staff thought of the kids and each other.
Throughout the day, I heard story after story that touched me and made me proud of the people who work for Victor. Our stories matter! It’s not only the stories that happen during an emergency that inspire. It is the daily stories I know of where our staff show courage, kindness, compassion, and love for our kids, families, and each other. At the end of the day, it is only these stories, and the relationships they reflect that matter. I am honored to be the CEO of Victor.”