Message from Sheila Burton, Executive Director
Dear Wonderful Friends and Supporters of Join Hands,
I am writing to you this morning with some exciting news.
After much discernment, I have decided that it is best for Join Hands, to ensure future sustainability, to transition Join Hands to new leadership in 2021, leadership from the community.
I have not arrived at this decision lightly, but I am completely convinced it is the right one. I have dedicated my life and brought my gifts to the young people we serve. With your help, we have created programs within which true relationships and friendships can grow. We have created a pathway out of poverty focused on education, one that has allowed us to tear down barriers to success for our kids, and to open doors of opportunity for them. And we have created a beloved community where the true beauty, value and potential of all can be seen, where all are welcome. We have been successful in instilling our philosophy of love and ubuntu into the heart of our programs. And now it is time for someone else to take what we have created, bring their gifts, and lift Join Hands to the next level, to ensure that it and its programs will be available to the children and families of East St. Louis for generations to come. I am not resigning from Join Hands, but I have submitted my resignation as Executive Director, hoping that as I do this, I can take on the limited role of Director of the Ubuntu Center for Peace. I hope to expand the justice and equity work of Join Hands, teach adult classes in Kingian nonviolence at the Ubuntu Center, and empower the next generation of change makers.
As I believe it is extremely important that the new Executive Director have the space to make Join Hands their own, while at the same time receiving whatever support they deem necessary, I intend on making myself available to them 24/7 as needed. But, I am also asking the Join Hands Board to approve a sabbatical of sorts for me, to give the new Executive Director this space, as well as to help me have the space I need to renew, revitalize, dream and make plans for the future of the Ubuntu Center for Peace.
I believe deeply in the mission of Join Hands, as I know you do. It is for this reason that I want to take steps to make sure it can continue without me, that it is not too connected to one personality, so it can be available to provide a pathway out of poverty for generations of children to come. I am completely convinced that now is the time for this transition and I am excited to see where it leads.
As you know, Join Hands would not be where it is today without you. I am counting on your continued support of Join Hands and our new Executive Director, so that together, we can look forward to the future and to the futures of our beautiful children, a future made brighter because of Join Hands.
Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions. I am so grateful for each and every one of you.
Peace and love,
p.s. We will be in touch soon, once a new Executive Director is hired, to let you know who will be leading Join Hands into the future!
October 12, 2021
September 16, 2020