Men's Shelter of Charlotte

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What Does Collaboration Look Like?

These days we so often hear the words “collaboration” and “partnership.”  Everyone knows the definition of each, but what does collaboration really look like?  How do you know an effective partnership it when you see it?  Oftentimes, it’s not as earthshattering or complicated in its execution as you might think.  To illustrate, I’ll describe the process used at the Men’s Shelter to help a lot of men find more appropriate housing.  For many of our men it starts with a visit to the HERC – Housing & Employment Resource Center – which is located in our Tryon Street Campus shelter.  There men are greeted by volunteers who manage the activities of the center.  For example, twice each week the HERC is staffed by our volunteer partners from Charlotte School of Law.  The volunteers help men start the process, filling out an apartment application, determining how they’ll use public transit, and so on.  From there, MSC’s housing specialists can more efficiently get men approved and ready to move into housing.  To expedite the actual move, we turn to our partners at Crisis Assistance Ministry.  Through their volunteers, Crisis Assistance Ministry provides our men with furniture and takes care of the physical move into their new place.  By not having to manage all of the many pieces by ourselves, MSC has been able to move more men into housing in seven months this year (339 men) versus all of last year (288).  You see, effective collaborations don’t have to be complicated or highly visible, they just have to get the partners focused on the mission – in our case, ending homelessness for each man.

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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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