Bob Cox resigned this week as president of the Historical Society of Forest Park. It was the right choice, although, we assume, a difficult one for Cox.
There were elemental differences between the future Cox saw for the organization and the vision of what appears to have been a majority of the board. Cox was extremely worried about finances and sought to protect the future by returning the society to an all-volunteer entity. Most board members though were excited about innovative programs and rising interest in our local history created largely through the work of part-time executive director Diane Hansen Grah. They are confident that in backing Grah and paying her very modest cost that they can grow the historical society into a vital and sustaining organization.
These are two very different approaches to leading a small and traditionally struggling non-profit. Rather than work to persuade his fellow elected board members of the wisdom of his plan, Cox took to unilateral actions including dismissing the executive director, redirecting bank statements to his home address and changing the online password for the society’s bank account. Such actions are unlikely to sit well with board members who also share a passion for the topic and a willingness to actively volunteer their efforts.
On Oct. 29, the historical society will hold a membership meeting where all board members will stand for reelection. Cox, in his resignation letter, pledged to present a detailed assessment of the society’s finances. Jerry Lordan, the current treasurer, will also present the current finances but will, we assume, also offer a more upbeat and expansive view of the potential of this organization. As he says in today’s news report about the society, “I am confident the historical society will be able to raise the money to support our professional staff as we have in the past. Forest Park wants us to be an effective, efficient historical society and they appreciate how important that is to the social infrastructure of the community.”
Now that is a vision to rally around.
Gays growing older
In a week when the U.S. Supreme Court effectively – and remarkably — declared gay marriage the law of the land, the Review looked in on a local organization which is actively reaching out to gay elders and finding a receptive audience.
West Suburban Senior Services, based out of its Forest Park location on Roosevelt Road, has been focusing new programs on older gay people for three years. Weekly lunches, movie nights, ballroom dance lessons are the enticements but it is in responding to the unique vulnerabilities of this often overlooked group that this program is truly offering essential support.
This is a generation of men and women who grew up in the closet, who bravely made their way out and, in that process, led the vast majority of people to begin to see the rights of gays to be the same as the rights of all other people. But getting old isn’t easy and gay elders are more likely to be alone and financially stretched than the wider population. WSSS is commended for its focus on this important group of people.