Take stock of what we want for communities

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My hope is that this holiday season and the new year will be a time for serious reflection and discussion on the state of our communities and what type of communities we want to live in. The destructive and negative tenor of the last several years must give way to meaningful conversation about what values our communities aspire to demonstrate and how we will demonstrate them. These discussions should be thoughtful, respectful and inclusive of all members and segments of the communities.

The power to change lies in each of us and won't be necessarily found in more laws and regulations. I believe it will be found when we start to live by the values we say are important to us. We cannot be satisfied until access to mental health and substance abuse treatment and health care and food is at least as easy as access to guns, bullets and drugs. We must be willing to understand the value of investing in behavioral health and other human service systems, not decreasing our investment in them.

Taking responsibility for ourselves and our communities must mean we contribute back to communities, not just take from them. Let's start a new and meaningful conversation about our collective future.

MARY FLEMING
Chief Executive Officer
Allegheny HealthChoices Inc.
Downtown


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