The following message was sent to Covia employees by Kevin Gerber, President and CEO, on Sunday, May 31. You can download the PDF version here.
I write to you as my home town of Oakland is in turmoil. All of us were already tired after weeks of shutdown and fear of illness. And, with the death of yet another Black man at the hands of police, another burden has been placed on our African American residents, employees, and neighbors.
I am writing with two messages today. One is to stay mindful of our guiding principles. We say that we have been shaped by our values of welcome, inclusion, social justice, and grace. We will do our utmost to demonstrate those values in all that we do. We say that we will respect one another and treat one another with dignity at all times. Black lives matter, and we resoundingly refuse to give in to racism, hatred, fear and violence. We say that we reflect, celebrate, and foster the diversity of those who live and work within the Covia family and society as a whole. We commit ourselves to supporting our African American residents, employees, and neighbors and to working with our greater communities to build a just society for everyone.
My second message is this: be kind and gentle with one another in these very difficult times. Recognize the burdens that those around you may carry, and help how you can.
On Tuesday, October 30th, Kevin Gerber, Covia’s President and CEO, along with Doug Pace, Director of Mission Partnerships for the Alzheimer’s Association, welcomed LeadingAge members to the Inclusion Reception, an event at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo in Philadelphia. Covia was one of the Signature Donors for the event.
Kevin – Good evening and welcome to the City of Brotherly Love and to LeadingAge’s Inclusion Reception. My name is Kevin Gerber and I’m the president and CEO of Covia, one of the proud sponsors of tonight’s event.
Doug – And I’m Doug Pace, Director of Mission Partnerships for the Alzheimer’s Association, also one of the proud sponsors this evening.
Thanks to Jerry Brown’s perseverance and advocacy, the first Inclusion Reception occurred when AAHSA, as LeadingAge was then known, held its annual meeting in San Francisco in 2006. Back then, many members never had even heard the term LGBT. Now, we’re hearing it from the podium at the plenary sessions. Then, there were no sessions dedicated to LGBT seniors. This year, we have workshops on preventing elder abuse and person-centered care specifically focused on LGBT seniors.
We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go. Only recently we saw the news of a same-sex couple who were refused entry into a senior living community because of their relationship. We still hear of LGBT seniors who decide to leave communities due to the homophobia of their neighbors. We know of friends and colleagues in this industry who still to this day feel they must hide their authentic selves in the place where they work. And many of the gains that we have made as a society seem vulnerable to reversal.
And so, although we’re here tonight to celebrate and enjoy one another, let’s not forget that this is a Party with a Purpose. We can’t rest and say our work is done. In her keynote address on Sunday, Frances Frei said, “You can’t argue for inclusion for one without arguing for inclusion for all.” We need to carry this spirit of inclusion with us to our communities and to our industry, for LGBT persons, and for everyone. After the party is over, let’s go back to our communities and our industry, speaking up for the inclusion of all and working to ensure that the differences among us are not merely tolerated, but welcomed and celebrated.