Yesterday during our monthly board of directors meeting, as we were concluding, one of our board members shared his thoughts. Instead of being an agency that provides a one-size fits all approach to helping our clients and instead of taking the paternalistic stance that we (the “professionals”) have all the answers and our men should just do what we say is best for them, he stated that MSC is an agency that truly serves. Elaborating, this board member talked about how our staff listens to men to find out what they need and, as importantly, what they want and then offer to help them accomplish their own goals. What an incredibly simple and impactful way to explain what MSC is all about – serving men experiencing homelessness. Yes, we have best practices and strategies to help men overcome their homeless experience by increasing income, obtaining and maintaining housing, and building a support system that helps prevent returns to the shelter. But at the core, MSC is about service to men during a critical time of need. We don’t have all the answers. The men we serve are smart, know what they want out of life, and come up with some very creative solutions. They just need someone to trust, to help them navigate complicated systems, and to encourage them. Earlier in our meeting we talked a bit about helping the board refine an “elevator speech” (a 30 second summary of what our agency is all about). After hearing this board member share, all I could say was “there’s your elevator speech.” In many ways our work is very complex and there are innumerable variables and moving pieces. However, what MSC does is also pretty simple – we serve others.
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.