Reed Pays Tribute to Tides Family Services Founder, Brother Michael Reis
REED: Mr. President, I rise today joined by my colleague Senator Whitehouse to honor the life and legacy of Brother Michael Reis, a man who made it his mission in life to never, ever give up on any kid. Brother Michael found his vocation joining the De La Salle Christian Brothers in the 1970s, and I was privileged to be a product of a Christian Brothers High School.
Like the founder of his order Saint John Baptist de La Salle, Brother Michael dedicated his life to educating and lifting up children at risk of being consigned to the margins of society in life.
He began his career in New York as a math teacher but was soon drawn into the world of social work. He moved from the classroom to a residential facility for justice-involved youth. Fortunately, his journey brought him to Rhode Island, where he first worked as a chaplain at the Adult Correctional Institute.
In 1974, he cofounded Ocean Tides, a residential program that provides a challenging, safe, and healthy learning environment for young men who have experienced severe educational difficulties in regular school settings and, indeed, have had other complicated social problems.
Over the years, I have met many students who have been transformed by their experiences at Ocean Tides. I have had the privilege of hosting them in my Senate office and here at the Capitol. Their poise, leadership, and thoughtfulness gave me confidence in our shared future and also exemplified the remarkable contribution that Brother Michael made to our community and to these young men.
He literally transformed their lives, lives that were, in many cases, headed to a very difficult, dangerous, and destructive end and now are lives that are poised for success, for contributions to the community, for a vindication of his faith in all men and women.
In 1983, Brother Michael expanded his focus to support at-risk youth and their families by founding Tides Family Services, which promotes family preservation and keeping youth within their communities through individual, family, and group counseling, home visitations, educational and court advocacy, as well as the networking of social services.
With a mere startup fund of $15,000, Brother Michael built an organization that employs over 140 dedicated staff and serves 500 youths a day. And when I say ``serve,'' I mean it. I have talked to these counselors. They will literally pick up young men from their homes and drive them to school so they get there and then get them back. They will counsel them.
They will encourage them. They will support them. They will give them confidence in themselves so that they can succeed.
It is a remarkable organization reflecting the spirit of Brother Michael, the dedication of Brother Michael, and his commitment to making sure that no child, as they say, is left behind.
I was proud to secure Federal resources to support the work that Tides is doing and the families it serves. Strong families are the foundation for everything else--economic security, educational attainment, civic participation, and healthy communities. These are investments that change lives and strengthen our society.
Brother Michael lived the mission of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. For over 40 years, he worked across systems, finding innovative ways to reach and support our most challenged youth and bring along partners to support this cause. His vision, tenacity, and great love of our community built two organizations that to this day are places of hope and healing for struggling youth and families. We are forever in his debt.
Brother Michael left us on Sunday, September 24, 2023, but his work lives on in the lives he changed, in the institutions he built, and most importantly, in the example he left for all of us. With that, Mr. President, I would like to yield to my colleague from Rhode Island, Senator Whitehouse.