I am sitting at a coffee shop this morning for the peace and quiet that is needed to write this heartfelt thank you and farewell. It is a Wednesday, the day I am at our teen house early to see the teens each week before they head off to school.
One young lady wanted to wear her pajama pants to school. One young man was helping another with his tie for his ROTC uniform. One left before I got there –driving his own car to school. (the car was given to him through a partnership with the Foster Parent Association) One wanted to talk about his family member who passed away suddenly last week. Two of our college girls were sleeping in, their classes didn’t start until late morning, so I peeked under the quilts to say hi.
This morning has been my life for the past five years. Not just my job, but my life–the life of my family and friends, who have listened to every success story, every heartbreaking story, every life story of every kid who’s come through Palmetto Place. That’s about 500 kids and more than 500 stories in my five years.
When I arrived at Palmetto Place, we had one well-loved old house. We had 10 or so kids, mostly elementary school age or younger. We had a brand new strategic plan that suggested we build a new house by 2018.
Now it’s 2017. We have a brand new old house that is just as loved as before, with the homey feeling of the old house and the clean lines of a new house. We have a second house just for our high school and college students. We have more than 30 kids who call Palmetto Place home.
It took a village to make all of this happen. We couldn’t have done this without you. Each of you has contributed in some way–time, talents, financial contributions, furniture, clothing and so much more. Thank you. Thank you for what you’ve done, for the house you’ve built, for birthdays, high school graduations, cars, vans, prom, cheerleading camp, Christmas and everything in between. Thank you for sharing the Palmetto Place story with your family and friends and bringing more gifts to our kids. Thank you for listening and thinking about how you could help. Thank you to our staff for loving and caring for our kids in a way that real family does–and for a long time after kids have left Palmetto Place. Thank you to our board members for incredible leadership, for vision, for taking risks and for wanting to do more and for wanting to do what’s right for kids.
Palmetto Place has changed my life, changed who I am and changed how I see the world. This organization and these kids have raised my expectations of human beings – because I’ve seen true giving and selflessness.
But now, it’s time for me to pass the reins on to another leader. It’s time for me to find a new challenge to take on. That new challenge will be serving as the CEO of the Palmetto Association for Children & Families. PAFCAF represents the organizations in South Carolina who care for children who have been abused, neglected or are medically fragile - and work to promote the best care of these children.
Leaving Palmetto Place was an incredibly difficult decision but it’s an opportunity that won’t come around again for me. I’m not going far–my office is in Columbia and you’ll see me at Baubles & Bubbles, Sweet & Savory and the golf tournament. The kids will still see me lots of Wednesday mornings before they go to school. I leave with a full and grateful heart and look forward to telling the stories of kids across South Carolina and doing more for children and families.
Farewell, my friends. Thank you.
So, farewell and thank you to all of you for the many gifts you’ve given to Palmetto Place and to me. I will miss all of you but your work for Palmetto Place will continue. There will always be kids who need you.
Erin G. Hall
Palmetto Place Executive Director
October 2012-January 2017