Men's Shelter of Charlotte

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Book Lists

I’m a reader.  I love books.  I do find value in online publications, but there’s something about holding a book, flipping back and forth through the pages as I read, and making notes in the margin that I only get from a book.  At the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC), we do a monthly book review during our agency-wide staff meetings.  Each month a staff member volunteers to read a book and then give a review to the group along with a “thumbs up or thumbs down” – Siskel & Ebert-style.  As I think about good books to share with our staff, I thought I’d pass along some of my favorites related to homelessness, housing, and the nonprofit sector…

Great books about the experience of homelessness (in no particular order):

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore.  A powerful story.

The Soloist by Steve Lopez.  Another very powerful story.

Finding Fish, A Memoir by Antwone Quenton Fisher.  Never saw the movie but loved the book.

Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard.  The author is from Raleigh NC and spoke at my shelter there.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  A well-known book of struggle and redemption.

A great book about poverty and the human experience:

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle.  Maybe one of the most powerful books I’ve read in a long time – very raw and real so prepare yourself.

Books about housing and homelessness:

How to Increase Homelessness: Real Solutions to the Absurdity of Homelessness in America by Joel John Roberts.  Not as easy to find but written by a homeless services agency executive director.

Helping America’s Homeless: Emergency Shelter or Affordable Housing? by Martha Burt, et al.  A data driven book valuable to those interested in the social science of homelessness.

How to House the Homeless edited by Ingrid Gould Ellen and Brendan O’Flaherty.  A collections of essays, also for those interested in the social science of homelessness.

Great books about nonprofits and the charity sector:

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (and How to Reverse It) by Robert Lupton.  A must read for those who work and volunteer with human services nonprofits and ministries.

With Charity for All: Why Charities are Failing and a Better Way to Give by Ken Stern.  A thought-provoking book.

Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential by Dan Pallotta.  Another very thought-provoking book.

Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits: Making the Right Decision in Good Times and Bad by Peter Brinckerhoff.  A great read for those who run nonprofits or aspire to be an executive director.

Hope you find one of these suggested books to be of value to you.  I know they have all shaped my worldview, my approach to my work, and the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.

Carson Dean

In September 2008 I became the Executive Director of the Men's Shelter of Charlotte. I've spent almost 15 years working to end homelessness in North Carolina. After working with homeless and runaway youth in Raleigh, I served as the Director of the South Wilmington Street Center (men's shelter) in Wake County and then worked on Orange County's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. I am a former board chair for the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness and former chair of the Homeless Services Network in Charlotte. In 2014 I served as the partner agency representative on the United Way Central Carolinas board of directors.

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