Melinda Grier has been volunteering at ShelterCare since 1996! She most recently served as ShelterCare board president from 2020-2021.
What a privilege it has been to lead the ShelterCare Board of Directors and to see how ShelterCare’s legendary nimbleness has carried it through the pandemic! Over the last few years, I have marveled at the ability of ShelterCare staff to face numerous challenges, while continuing to provide relevant and compassionate care to program participants who work so hard to be housed and independent.
What have we done?
- Move to remote work when possible and institute safe procedures when not.
- Institute telehealth and help provide program participants necessary equipment and support.
- Assist program participants who found the changes in their lives due to COVID-19 to be especially challenging while at the same time staff were also adjusting to the changes required both professionally and personally.
- Qualify and receive PPP loan funds so we can keep our staff regardless of reduced census and other budgetary constraints resulting from COVID-19.
- Encourage staff and program participants to use masks, socially distance, get vaccinated.
- Open The Commons on MLK to provide housing for an important, but sometimes challenging, population.
- Close the Shankle Program and help residents transition to other programs.
- Process claims and provide over $2 million to landlords of individuals who were behind on rent payments and qualified for assistance
- Work to educate funders that, to operate safely, programs must be funded at cost rather than below.
Just reading the list is exhausting. Time and again, Michelle and the amazing ShelterCare staff have identified a need and set about meeting it, even when they are exhausted themselves.
And what lies ahead? I’m really optimistic. We have a strong Board, Michelle and ShelterCare employee teams are talented and committed. We have a carefully crafted, concrete strategic plan focused on
- continuing to provide high quality, compassionate services,
- increasing staff compensation to be competitive with that at other agencies,
- developing a stable funding base by negotiating full cost agreements with funding entities and increasing our major donor base, and
- working at the state and local level to increase understanding that keeping individuals housed often requires supportive services in addition to physical shelter.
Will it be hard? Of course, it will. If it was easy, with the staff, board and commitment ShelterCare has, we would have done that years ago. But with those resources and with support from the community and partnerships with other committed agencies, we will succeed.