Organization NameTrinity Center
Number of Years as Executive DirectorI have served as Trinity Center’s Executive Director for 10 months. Previously, I served as the agency’s Operations Coordinator for 4 ½ years.
What does your organization do?Trinity Center serves as a day center for individuals experiencing homelessness. As a day center, our agency meets clients exactly where they are at and invites and collaborates with numerous organizations who also want to reach our specific population. For 23 years the agency has served the downtown area, providing direct and essential services including:
• A daily breakfast meal for 80-100 individuals Mon. – Fri. and a weekly Sunday meal for 40-50 individuals
• Indoor Space usage that allows clients to get out of the heat, cold or rainy weather
• A mailing address – Trinity Center receives mail for more than 1,400 people
• Individual Case Management in order to assist people to secure housing, apply for benefits and provide support to better their situation
• Assisting with Financial cost of application and security deposit fees, and move-in costs for case management clients
• Financial Assistance for Texas IDs, Driver’s Licenses, in-and-out of state birth certificates, food handler and TABC courses, prescriptions, and background checks
• Purchase long distance bus tickets for reunification with families pending verification
• Phone use for local and long distance phone calls daily, computer use daily with printing access
• Clothing and showers for women and men weekly through a ministry run by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Tarrytown United Methodist Church
• Collaboration with Central Health for application for and distribution of Health Insurance cards (Medical Access Program) weekly
• Collaboration with the Central Texas Food Bank and El Buen Samaritano for application for Food Stamps weekly
• Collaboration with Ending Community Homeless Coalition (ECHO) for housing assessments– eligibility screenings for housing in the Austin area.
• Notary services, and daily distribution of basic and essential toiletry items and referrals to partner agencies
• Bi-weekly assistance from Cricket Wireless for free government cell phones
• Weekly sexual health education and HIV Testing through Community Care
How did you become interested in this work?From an early age I was inspired by my mother who studied social work throughout my middle school and high school years. She instilled in me the importance of helping others and would bring me along on some of her volunteer work. A very influential experience in my life was when I served 2 years as a head coach of a Special Olympics Team for a group of men with physical and intellectual disabilities. Following that experience I did a lot of volunteer work with agencies like H.A.N.D. (Helping the Aging, Needy and Disabled), New Century Hospice, Caritas of Austin, and Community New Start.
What drives your passion?Personally, my Christian faith is a huge component that drives me to do what I do. “Loving my neighbor as I love myself,” is something I do my best to aim for in my work, whether it’s with the population we serve, or with my staff. I believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, and I believe everyone deserves to know that they are loved and cared for, and my work at Trinity Center has given me that space to do so.
Do you have a mentor or a role model?There have been many people who have spoken into many parts of my life. It’s hard to name just one.
What's the biggest challenge in your work?Our biggest challenge in our work comes with advocating for long-term solutions to the issue of homelessness in our city. Trinity Center plays a vital role in the community, as do other agencies who serve the same population, but the amount of services and options available for people in such situations does not reflect the amount of individuals there are who are dealing with homelessness in our city—we need more affordable housing options, mental health care services, etc.
What's the best advice that you have ever received?When things get challenging, learn to take a step back and remind yourself why you got into this work in the first place, and let that encourage and fuel you to continue moving forward.
What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?1. Always take a learning posture—learn from the experts of the different parts of your role (Finances, Mission/Vision, HR, Operations, etc.)
2. Figure out how to balance work and non-work life—let the work you do each day in your work hours be “enough.”
3. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected—take the time to pour into your staff in any ways you can.