EJF yesterday, today and tomorrow

2009 was a special year for EJF (the Lutheran Youth- and Welfare Organisation): on 4th December we celebrated our 115th anniversary, and this same year we ended our five-year intensive co-operation with the Lazarus Deaconry Foundation (a collaboration which had even led to a change in our name). EJF, the Lutheran Youth and Welfare Organisation, returns to its roots!

The 1895 Lutheran Year Book “Rettungsbote“ praised the foundation of our association on 4 December 1894: “And so, we have now also in our province a construction which many people gave their best to lay the foundations for … may God bless this happily constructed form with rich and helpful content“. The founding of EJF created the roots of a tree which today is of an impressive size, with strong branches and a wide crown, promising many more healthy years of life.

From its root a solid tree has steadily grown which has never been bent and has developed many branches to give support to the weakest in our society. Very often, in its words and in its actions in support of all generations, EJF was ahead of its times; be it in the professional care for people with special physical or learning needs, in educational work with children and young people, in support for young offenders, or in counselling services for single parents and families. Very often EJF created the benchmarks for others to follow. Repeatedly, new challenges appeared because of great changes in society. Each time we took up the challenge with a strong spirit and found solutions. Based on the strength of its continuity EJF always searches for ways of professional development, and connects its founding thought of Christian charity with an active commitment to the creation of an integrated society.

EJF, the Lutheran Youth- and Welfare Organisation,
currently runs more than 90 different institutions offering direct care for more than 4000 people in need. It employs about 2500 staff in the German regions of Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Bavaria, as well as in some Polish and Czech areas close to our common border. This means that over the past 10 years our staff base has increased by nearly 1000 members, and that 40 more institutions are now part of the organisation!

This has only been possible because we have continually improved the skills base of our organisation, and have been able to lead through quality-provision of services. This is why we have often been approached by local councils or regional administrations to run services on their behalf. We are, understandably, proud of such trust placed in us, and will do our very best to justify it also in the future. Let me just mention some of the innovative ‘pilot projects‘ which EJF has already put in place: the project ‘people instead of walls’, a support project for children and young people with criminal records; early learning support for vision-impaired children and their families; ‘mothers learning’, a pilot-project for teenage mothers and their children; ‘live and learn’, a boarding school for young people with truancy problems; and the German-Arabic Centre for Education and Integration, an initiative designed to help young people with experiences of migration to arrive in our society. And there are other projects in preparation: bilingual crèches and kindergardens, parenting schools, integrated living facilities for the elderly, to name but a few.

With each other – For each other. This has been the inspiration for everything we have done since the beginning of our organisation. And it will remain exactly that in the future. Yet we want to widen this inspiration. Developments in society show us that there is a great need to leave behind linear relationships, and instead think of ‘environments’. People live ‘together’. In many areas of society there is a clear demand for concepts that are analogous to a ‘family’. With each other – for each other are good and necessary Christian inspirations for action. ‘Togetherness’ is what makes life beautiful. We want that people in our care are well, and that they lead as much as possible a ‘beautiful’ life.
And so, I return to the image used at the beginning, the strong tree with its many branches – and its crown that makes the tree beautiful:

With each other – for each other – together.

In this sense I remain yours,
with my very best wishes

Siegfried Dreusicke (former chairman, ceo)