The Power of Black History Month

By Michael Coughlin, President and CEO of Crotched Mountain Foundation

In February we celebrate Black History Month. This period of reflection and remembrance is a critical and expanding piece of the American experience. The power of Black History Month is especially evident here at Crotched Mountain School. Nearly 40% of our direct care workforce–our most important staff!–are immigrants and refugees. And the vast majority of those folks are people of color.

And let me be clear: none of the incredible work that takes place here every day, happens without them. Without the diversity we treasure–and rely upon–at Crotched Mountain, our mission is defeated.

Diversity is the bedrock of our organization. It’s not a buzzword. It’s not a checkmark in a policy manual somewhere. It’s a real and necessary and crucial element to what we do, borne out by the very nature of serving people with diverse needs.

Every child, every student, every adult that Crotched Mountain serves is incredibly unique. When I walk through the halls of Crotched Mountain School I am consistently humbled and awed by the spectacular diversity on display. Some students have communication devices, some use accessible technology to get around, and every diagnosis is completely different.

And there, right alongside our students, encouraging and supporting them, are our team members, among the most diverse workforces in New Hampshire, without whom none of this magic happens.

At Crotched Mountain, we celebrate the unique gifts that our staff bring, no matter where they come from. We know that each person’s culture, heritage, background and traditions bring a richness to the work they do every day, and help inform their professions. Now, more than ever, this celebration is vitally important. We need to see the life beyond someone’s exterior, to the intrinsic value we all have, the potential for everyone to reach their own, unique peaks.

That is the lesson I take from Black History Month. It is why this part of the calendar is so important–to our nation, to our neighbors, and to a little mountain in the wilds of southwestern New Hampshire, where every day we strive to live by the ideals this month imparts to us all.

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