A century ago, a small group of volunteers from local Lutheran churches banded together with a mission: to help disadvantaged young men in the DC-area realize their potential. These young men, boys really, were recently released from juvenile detention facilities and faced a life on the streets, with little hope and fewer resources. Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) changed their lives by planting in these young men an image of what could be – a life of peace, prosperity and safety.
Since that first day, LSS/NCA has instilled images of hope and grace for countless individuals, families and communities across the region. From refugee families fleeing violence in their home countries, to foster children in need of safe and loving homes to children who feel shamed or marginalized simply because of circumstances beyond their control – we are there.
Yet, the very nature of our work means that oftentimes we go unnoticed except by those we serve directly and the small army of staff, volunteers and partners who heed the call to serve with us. When people hear about our organization, no defining image quickly comes to mind. Instead, we are left with only words to describe what it is we do. Powerful words. But an image can do things that words simply cannot.
In this our 100th year, we are on a new mission. A mission to find an artist – professional or amateur, young or old, experienced or novice – to capture the heart of what we do in an image. A person to create a symbol of the hands that come together to serve, the hearts that are opened to hope and possibility and grace and the faces of those who are experiencing peace and comfort – often for the first time in their lives.
It’s no small task. Yet, worthy tasks are often difficult.
We have put out a call to the local artist community, through arts organizations, schools and our own partner organizations and congregations. We hope that an artist will hear our story, or the story of those whom we serve – the refugees, the children, the families in need – and be inspired to create. That creation will become our beacon: The image that will grace the side of our headquarters building in Washington DC. The image that becomes the touchstone for our organization. The image that comes to mind when anyone hears the name Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area.
It will be an image of grace. An image of hope. An image of love. If you are an artist, or if you know one, I would kindly ask them to seek their heart. When they hear the work we do, what image do they see? And will they share that image with the world?