I am retiring from ShelterCare at the end of this month. In 2020, I’ll begin a new journey, which is currently in discovery, and take time to reflect on the career I’ve experienced. It has been an adventure! The work was always challenging, and sometimes presented a steep Sisyphus-ian learning curve. The community was always engaging and often fostered relationships that were deeply gratifying. The mission was compelling. The vision imbued with hope and a solid confidence in the essential capacity of humans to survive, to recover, and to thrive. It has been a great privilege and honor to have spent these years at ShelterCare.
Your support has been central to our success. The support of the community of donors and investors has been necessary to provide the services that nurture hope, opportunity and dignity! Thank you.
Thirty-some years ago I was contemplating my relationship with this agency. I’d started in the late 1980s by consulting with the Executive Director, and then moved onto the Board of Directors. In early 1991, I agreed to fill a vacancy as “interim” while a new director was recruited. At that time I asked myself what my goals for this agency would be, should I apply for the director position myself. This was my list:
- Responsible internal agency management;
- Adequate funding for agency programs;
- Increasing and sustainable community support, and
- A vision for our work that compels engagement by consumers, employees,and the community.
Today, I reflect on the progress we’ve made over thirty years:
- We have an exceptional, competent, and caring team of managers, directors and board leaders;
- We are fiscally sound and have successfully weathered some painful and challenging financial storms over the past several decades;
- Community support for our services and our mission is more robust than ever before;
- We have a vision for the future: “inspiring all to create a home in our community.”
The increasing and sustained support of the community, of donors and investors, has been necessary to provide the quality of care that transforms lives.
As I think about retirement, I’m grateful for the maturity this agency has achieved over the decades. We are no longer “Eugene Emergency Housing.” Our reach has expanded beyond Eugene. Our solutions have evolved beyond “Emergency.” As “ShelterCare,” we better
understand the complexities of poverty, homelessness, behavioral health disabilities, affordable housing, and more. How we conduct ourselves is as important as the services we provide. A decade ago, we embraced a set of values that, today, continue to be the standard that keeps us focused on our mission. Those values include:
- Collaborative – Our employees, partner agencies, and volunteers work together for the benefit and support of our communities.
- Person-Centered – Each service we provide is individualized, culturally appropriate, and strength-based because each person we serve is unique.
- Compassionate – We provide a caring environment where people find hope and rebuild their lives.
- Results-Focused – We help people regain success and achieve independence.
ShelterCare’s organizational development reflects the deepening understanding of the world around us. No longer is a mental illness “chronic.” Individuals are not defined by their disability. Our society has embraced “recovery” as a reality. And ShelterCare’s programs and services promote an active hope that encourages individuals to be their best and grow in confidence, self-esteem, and engagement with their communities.We recognize the complexities of human experience that exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness. Trauma, in all its forms, adverse childhood experiences, and extreme poverty compel us to respond with researched and evidence-based practices that result in measured outcomes of success. ShelterCare has embraced philosophies and practices that promote recovery; including motivational interviewing, stages of change, harm reduction, and more.
Your support has allowed our program teams to stay literate and current with emerging best practices. The increasing and sustained support of the community has been necessary to provide the quality of care that transforms lives. Thank you.
Within our community, we now recognize that “emergency” shelter is not enough. Over the past decade, we experimented with approaches that have become national “best practice” interventions. We began our work with homelessness prevention in the 1980s. Interventions with individuals who had chronic histories of homelessness began in the 1990s. “Housing First” is one such intervention where there are no barriers to being housed and lots of individualized services to make that housing successful. For us, that programming began in 1997 and has expanded exponentially over the past two decades.
Your support is needed now and will be necessary for our services to expand and embrace the opportunities ahead of us. As “Housing First” becomes a community priority with new affordable housing developments, ShelterCare is standing ready to serve. Your support keeps us strong and ready for the challenges ahead.
The greatest gift I take with me as I leave this position is the knowledge that I am a part of an amazing community! This community respects all of our citizens, invests in their welfare, is creative in problem-solving, and is engaged in solutions – even when social challenges seem overwhelming. I am proud to be part of this community, and honored to have seen, first-hand, how compassionate and generous it is. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making these years so wonderful.