A Warm Welcome to the OBT Community,

May is the by far, my favorite month as we observe some truly special days such as Mother’s Day, Mental Health Awareness, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Cinco de Mayo, which means “the fifth of May” in Spanish, celebrates the defeat of the French army during the Batalla de Puebla in Mexico on May 5, 1862.  In the US, Cinco de Mayo is seen as a day to celebrate the culture, achievements, and experiences of people with a Mexican background. Businesses promote Mexican food, drinks, and music, and traditional symbols of Mexican life are celebrated.

May is also the very important time of the year in which we aim to increase awareness of Mental Health. Mental health awareness is the ongoing effort to reduce the stigma around mental illness and mental health conditions by sharing our personal experiences. Often, because of misconceptions about mental health, people suffer in silence and their conditions go untreated.  It’s important for us to recognized that “There is no Health Without Mental Health”. 

On the last Monday in May, we remember and mourn the soldiers and military personnel who died in military service. It is tradition to visit cemeteries and memorials, some also place flags on the soldiers’ graves. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States and seen as the start of the summer season.

We also observe Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The national theme for AAPI Heritage Month 2023 is Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”. I will not be here for the May staff meeting, but I encourage you to honor our AAPI staff and board members during this time.

As we celebrate OBT’s 40th anniversary, this is a great time to reflect on the many successes of our service to the New York City community.  As announced in April, I have decided to transition from OBT in June. For nearly two years, I have had the amazing opportunity to work alongside an outstanding team serving the residents of New York City in one of the most critical areas of their well-being – Workforce Development. OBT’s holistic approach to workforce development is comprehensive, providing the full social service support our participants need to THRIVE. Creating pathways for unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers is the key to economic security for themselves and their families.

I want to thank each member of this community for your dedication and commitment to OBT’s mission. New York City needs strong and inclusive workforce development Programs to effectively serve our youth, immigrants, and adults in culturally relevant matters that strategically address the REAL issues our community face every day. Working with such a talented and passionate team has been an honor. Together, we have accomplished so much in advancing our vision to strengthen the workforce and break the cycle of poverty and inequity through education, job training, and employment.

As I prepare to pass the baton, I want to express my gratitude for the support you have shown me throughout my tenure at OBT. Your kindness, hard work, and unwavering commitment to the organization’s mission has inspired me to continue my life’s mission of service.  I am confident that the fantastic team at OBT will continue the advocacy, support, and programs that make us unique. Thank you for everything, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for all of us.

Yours in Service,
Dr. Darlene Williams