Volunteer Spotlight: Board Chair shares insights on Mastery at Latham

Christine Gillstrom Burgess has been a dedicated volunteer member of our Board of Directors for several years, currently serving as Board Chair. In this ‘Volunteer Spotlight’ blog, we’d like to share some of her inspirational words about some of the many ways we strive for Mastery here at Latham Centers. The following is an excerpt of Chris’s opening remarks at our Year-End Celebration last month:

“At Latham Centers, our four service delivery values – Belonging, Mastery, Generosity, and Independence – are our guiding principles in our daily lives… In all things, we strive to foster a caring environment that will cultivate these values to ensure meaningful, abundant lives for our students and residents… Today, I’d like to pay tribute to Mastery:

  • On campus, we have our staff who strive to learn and master new approaches and teaching methods and then take that knowledge to create innovative life-changing programs for our Latham students.

  • We have our students who work hard each and every day to learn, understand, and master these lessons and take pride in his/her own personal journey.

  • Through our Latham Works program, our students are coached to master vocational and job-readiness skills – such as craft making, horticulture, woodworking, soap making, cash register abilities, sorting and assembly – to prepare students for life after graduation.

  • Latham’s volunteer program allows students to offer and practice their mastered skills at a variety of local places. Our residents continually give back to our community at locations such as animal care and elder care facilities and local churches.

  • Our music and arts programs allow our students to express themselves individually while accomplishing individualized goals within a therapeutic medium. Mastering and performing a song bring smiles not only to the audience but to the performers as well.

  • Our Asinotherapy – or donkey therapy – Program gives our residents opportunities to master the care of our miniature donkeys and, by the way, also participate in the wedding of the century when Esther and Esau got hitched in May!

In my own journey to Mastery, I’m committed to continually educate myself in the issues of our industry by taking advantage of available resources and information to better understand the needs of our students and residents, their families, and our staff at Latham Centers. So, in pursuit of my Mastery, I’ve attended various events such as the Parents/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) Conference and the recent PWS: A Bright Future Conference in Connecticut which was co-hosted by Latham Centers and driven, in part, by our own Board member, Matt (and his wife, Buffy)

McCleery. This year, I also attended a Meet your Representative Lunch up at the State House in Boston in hopes of building relationships with our lawmakers so that I can better advocate for Latham’s needs.

I am truly inspired by our staff at Latham Centers, both in their dedication and commitment to our mission and core values. By opening the door to Mastery, we help our students and residents achieve their potential, discover their strengths, master skills they never thought possible and, in doing so, build their self-esteem knowing that the Latham community cares about them. But even more so, I am awestruck at the determination and engagement of our students and residents who work diligently for their accomplishments.”

We are so grateful to have Chris serving on our Board of Directors! Heather Kelsey, our Director of Development, noted, “Chris was instrumental in facilitating Latham’s participation in the Cape Cod Charitable FunRaiser (now Barnstable Charitable Foundation) events. She rallied support from our Board of Directors to encourage participation, and she and her husband Mark raise thousands of dollars each year as riders in The Gasp. In three and a half years, we have raised over $55,000 for our capital campaign through our participation in The Gasp, Roll the Rock, and The Festival of Trees.”

We hope you’ll join or support Chris and Team Latham in their 55-mile “The Gasp” bike ride September 15, 2019! To participate in the fundraising event, please visit https://www.thegasp.org/registration-details – be sure to choose Latham as your beneficiary charity.

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