Empowering children who have experienced some of the most extensive, traumatic, and devastating circumstances while fostering a sense of hope has been at the heart of Allendale’s mission throughout its 125 years of existence. With a staff dedicated to an evolutionary process of creating innovative programs and services designed to meet the changing needs of its children and their families, Allendale is reaching a milestone few organizations can boast.
It is the celebration of the organization’s 125th Anniversary, according to Jason Keeler, President/CEO of Allendale, which provided him the impetus to engage his Board and his staff in what he termed the most ‘highly restorative and emotionally reinvigorating’ process to date.
“That process was to enlist designRoom, an organization that works exclusively in the behavioral and mental healthcare industries, to lead us in a rebranding initiative,” Keeler explained. “I had worked with them prior to coming to Allendale and knew they would engage our people in a very organic process which would explore our thoughts and passions about the work we do with the children and families entrusted to our care, not try to wordsmith what they thought to be true.”
He went on to explain that learning how best to ‘tell our story’ to the community and those who might need Allendale’s help was truly vital to the organization’s future. This process of rebranding included looking at its logo and its tagline, both which needed to reflect Allendale’s evolution over the past 125 years as well as the journey its clients take towards their future.
“Our goal was to recognize that we don’t live in a world where there is such a thing as ‘a best kept secret.’ So, while I think it’s important not to be grandiose and too self-promoting, it is equally important that we communicate both verbally and visually, not only the vitally important work we do, but the WHY behind the work we do and the positive impact that we have and can have on the children and families whose lives we touch,” he said.
Creating a life-changing opportunity, and empowering and equipping children and their families with the tools to start over and reimagine their futures, is their WHY. But critical to understanding how the staff achieves that is also important. Their methodology, the best practices they use to achieve these goals, is significant.
Each staff member is tasked with focusing on the unique needs of the children and their families. There is no one cookie-cutter approach being utilized. How the staff implements their work was reflected in the six key branding words that naturally emerged from the internal conversations communicated by staff and Board to the design team. All six words express their passion for the important mission they hold dear as a team.
“Allendale started out as a farm for orphaned boys,” Keeler said. “Today families entrust us to provide a safe haven for their children where we can help them redirect and develop resiliency by inspiring both hope and trust that they along with their families can have a better life.”
Family today can be defined in myriad ways. Keeler himself was raised in a family with five adopted siblings and parents who engaged in foster parenting as well. So, as he puts it, “I am hard wired to understand the importance of family.”
“As we celebrate this milestone anniversary, we want to be able to better tell our story,” Keeler said. “This is us! We will celebrate our heritage but continue to harness our strength which is adapting to children and family needs in our everchanging future.”
And what’s on the drawing board for the next 125 years? Currently Allendale is working to enhance its community prevention capacity.
“In addition to being a resource kids and families can come to seeking help, we are expanding capacity of going to them. We will continue to help those kids who may be stepping back down after having been in one of our more intensive programs, but going forward, we want to be able to work with children and their families in their homes before they have to be removed because of a hospitalization or have to get involved in the child welfare or the juvenile justice system,” concluded Keeler.
For 125 years, Allendale, a private, not-for-profit organization, has led youth with serious emotional, mental, and behavioral health challenges and their families on a journey towards resiliency.
At Allendale, our aim is to offer every chance for healing and growth – through myriad programs and services and a continuum of care including 24/7 therapeutic residential treatment, therapeutic day school programs, outpatient counseling services, foster care and community support services. Allendale is a place where kids and families have the opportunity to restore their lives and discover a better future.