Letter: GBICS commits to anti-racist work

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To the Editor:

The Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services, Inc. (GBICS) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and denounces the institutional and systemic racism which has led to brutality and violence suffered by the Black community in our country. GBICS condemns racism in any form.

Since its beginning, GBICS has honored its commitment to serving those in need in the greater Bennington community with compassion, dignity, and respect, and without regard to race or other human characteristics or circumstances. Our work and advocacy remain centered on these values, but a policy and practice of non-discrimination is not enough.

Access to food security, economic assistance and medical care is deeply intertwined with racism resulting in vastly disproportionate health and economic outcomes for marginalized communities. As an organization that strives to build a community where people have what they need to lead healthy lives, we cannot work to that end without also working to end racism. Through a process of reflection and self-examination, GBICS resolves to ensure anti-racism in its programs, internal policies, and practices.

We will listen to and learn from those whose voices have been systematically silenced, dismissed, or devalued. This is an ongoing process, and we are still figuring this out.

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Some of our initial steps:

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- Provide time and space for our board, staff, and volunteers to explore issues of racism and privilege.

- Commit to racial justice in all our work.

- Examine change in our internal systems and structures to dismantle systemic racism and to report to our community on the actions that we undertake.

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- Create a values statement through the eyes of racial justice to share with our guests.

- Help those we serve understand these issues.

This is a pivotal moment in our nation's history. It is vital for us to take the time to listen, understand each other, and find new ways to create lasting change. GBICS steadfastly commits to this change while we continue our important work.

GBICS Board of Trustees: Ruth Botzow; Mary Ann Carlson; Marisa Eisemann, MD; Charlie Gingo; Joan Goodrich; David King, MD; David LaForest; Janice Lerrigo; Sarah Wilson, Esq. Medical Director: Dick Dundas, MD; Executive Director: Scott Winslow.


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