Men's Shelter of Charlotte

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Together We Are

Together we are.  This was the theme of my talk last week at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s Moving Men Home 2015 Community Partnership Breakfast and Fundraiser.  First, my sincerest thanks to the nearly 600 people who turned out for our breakfast and helped us reach our fundraising goal (almost 10% of our annual budget)!  I thought today I’d share the text of my talk last week (slightly edited for clarity) because I do believe that our community has the will, the means, and the ability to end homelessness.  What, I think, may be missing is a clear vision as to how to do so, which I’m hoping I provided in my talk (you’ll be the judge).  To end homelessness in Charlotte, which can be done, we all have to be in it together.  I hope you enjoy my remarks and maybe even glean a golden nugget from them.

TOGETHER WE ARE                                                          

Proverbs 29 tells us “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Where there is no vision the people perish!   Charlotte has a vision. Men’s Shelter of Charlotte has a vision. I believe, no I know, everyone in this [community] shares that vision. Ending homelessness in our community! But how do you turn a vision into reality? You start by identifying the problem, understanding the root cause of the problem, and then formulating a solution. 

At the Men’s Shelter, we know the root cause of homelessness. We also know what it’s not. The root cause is not unemployment. It’s not addiction or mental illness. It’s not a lack of affordable housing.

Yes, these are all critically important contributing factors that must be addressed, that we are addressing – at the Men’s Shelter and in collaboration with our wonderful partner agencies – but they are not the cause. You see, homelessness is caused by a lack of a personal support system. 

Think about it for a moment, close your eyes and visualize with me. We all know people struggling to make ends meet, to pay the rent or to pay the mortgage. We know people who lost their job and struggle to find another. We know people struggling with addiction and mental illness. But, they’re not staying in a homeless shelter; they’re not living on the streets. What’s different between the people we know and love in our families and neighborhoods and the men at the shelter? It comes down to personal support systems. One has it and the other doesn’t. Why is less important than what is needed to rebuild that system, one man at a time.

We know the solution, it’s stated in our equation… Income + Housing + Support. Three legs to a stool, each necessary to stabilize the other. This is the mission we live every day at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte… to provide safe emergency shelter while working to end homelessness for each man. We know the cause and we know the solution.

Where there is no vision the people perish. We have the vision and we’ve transformed it into our mission, our equation. Where there is no vision the people perish. It’s not going to happen in Charlotte.

It’s not possible because of the people in this [community]. It’s not even remotely fathomable at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. 

Why? Because, together, all of us – volunteers, staff, donors, partner agencies, sponsors, the men we serve, communities of faith – we are serving, caring for, helping our most vulnerable citizens. Together we are moving men into more appropriate housing. Together we are putting men back to work. Together we are helping men address their addictions, their illnesses, and their lack of income. Together we are helping men rebuild their personal support systems. Together we are executing our equation, Income + Housing + Support! 

Together we are refusing to let the people perish because together we are ending homelessness in our community!

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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