In the past month, millions of words have been written about the late Nelson Mandela. There were stories that profiled his courage, strength, leadership, dedication, compassion and willingness to work with those who originally opposed his cause. His commitment to what he felt in his soul was so strong that he inspired the oppressed and less fortunate to continue the struggle in hopes of a better life for themselves and future generations.
Mandela served 27 years in prison not because he committed a heinous crime — but because he believed in what South Africa could be for all its people. As many of you know, his story and the cause that he led played out on a global stage. I’d like to think that the American Counseling Association responded to that call in our own small way.
In 1977, the Sullivan principles were published. These principles called for corporate social responsibility and laid out a code of conduct. They were designed to apply economic pressure on South Africa in regard to the country’s practices of apartheid, or racial segregation enforced through legislation. Given the counseling profession’s commitment to social justice, the ACA board felt strongly about ending apartheid in South Africa.
To demonstrate its support, ACA’s board voted to place its investments only with corporations that agreed to the Sullivan principles. Many organizations eventually took similar actions, but I like to think that our association really did put its money where its mouth was.
I also like to think that all of you, whether in your practice, your classrooms or your other work settings, continue to emulate the thoughts of Nelson Mandela when he said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.” You know firsthand the despair that students, clients and others may be feeling. But you persevere, advocate, counsel and help others find solutions to challenges. In other words, what someone originally sees as an impossible situation becomes less so as the result of your help. What a wonderful way to connect with and support others.
On behalf of the entire ACA staff, I wish you the very best in 2014. We will do our best to be of help to you as you continue helping others overcome the impossible.

I also want to express a personal thank you to those who contacted me after reading last month’s column in which I wrote about the lessons we learn from our four-legged companions. I was overwhelmed and touched by your words of support and your sharing of such wonderful personal experiences. My deepest gratitude.
As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to contact me at 800.347.6647 ext. 231 or via email at ryep@counseling.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: 

Be well.