It Takes a Village: A letter to our Menands Community

As were near the end of what has been, for many of us, one of the most challenging years of our lives, we as a community remain strong and here for each other. Despite the difficulties the pandemic has brought to our day-to-day lives, Menands residents have continued to support each other and those in need, as we saw most recently with the Toys for Tots campaign. Our village is special and we strive to connect with all of our residents. Not just in times of need, but always.

Both the Village and Menands School communities have become more diverse in recent years. This is something in which we take great pride. Events over the past year have made us reflect on our understanding and appreciation for the various groups that collectively make up our community.

School and village leaders had the opportunity this past summer to engage in meaningful conversations with members of our community. We talked about the pandemic and the effects it is having around the world, particularly amongst persons of color. We discussed systemic racism, highlighted by the death of George Floyd. Considering the diverse cultural makeup of our community, there is much to talk about.

We heard clearly that our response, or lack thereof, to the protests of systemic racism taking place across our country was inadequate and even hurtful to members of our own community. For that, we are sorry. Though we might wish to think such issues do not impact our small village, this is not the reality.

Our conversations were enlightening and, at times, emotional. Our neighbors spoke earnestly about the real challenges faced by African-American members of the community. Our police officers discussed challenges they face as part of their job. There was a better understanding of what each other goes through on a daily basis. We hope these ongoing conversations will help lay the groundwork for more genuine, empathetic relationships in the future. While difficult at times, the dialog was much needed to foster relationships with those who comprise the many nationalities and ethnicities that make up our community, and to understand that we do not have to choose sides –  we can acknowledge and work toward fixing systemic issues while still supporting our police.

Our work to date has merely scratched the surface. We do not have all the answers, but we are dedicated to continuing these discussions and exploring ways to create meaningful change in our community. We are embarking on a journey to do our part to promote inclusivity and diversity, and we welcome others to join us in this effort. We hope to resume our conversations early next year.

Though we cannot change the past, we are committed to doing better moving forward, to make all residents of our village feel welcomed and appreciated – to feel they are truly valued members of our community.  

The new year brings new opportunities and renewed hope for transparency, diversity and a peaceful world. It Takes A Village and that is where we begin.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a safe and healthy new year!

Dr. Maureen Long
Superintendent, Menands School

Chief Frank Lacosse
Menands Police           

Mayor Megan Grenier
Village of Menands