July 20, 2020
Executive Director’s Report
These are crazy times we’re in and it’s forced me to take a good look at myself.
Like many others, the spread of COVID-19 has brought out the clean freak in me – although you wouldn’t realize it looking at my office. In the past, germs never really bothered me nor did another person’s illness. Now, I feel the anxiety rise from my stomach when I see people in groups not wearing masks, or when they’re touching every peach on display at the grocery store. I may not have said something before, but I’ve come to realize now it’s my obligation – not just for myself but for the benefit of all.
That brings me to the light shining brightly on Black Lives Matter, discrimination, immigration, the right to protest, and “all men are created equal” vs. “all people are created equal.” My immediate response is in support of Black Lives Matter. Discrimination is an unjustifiable hardship that impacts individuals and all other elements of society. The systemic racism oppressing the Black community needs to be openly acknowledged and addressed.
Throughout my self-evaluation, the voice of a since-passed friend plays in my head, “What is your authentic response?” It’s easy to dismiss the thought of being racist and far more difficult to admit that I hold prejudices about an entire group of people. I would never do that! But am I being honest with myself?
To help me uncover the answer to that question and hoping to learn more about myself, I decided to take an implicit association test from Harvard University’s Project Implicit. The tests are designed to uncover our attitudes and beliefs towards groups of people based on race, sex, gender identity, weight, weapons, disability, and more. After taking 15 of the tests offered, I DID learn things about myself — some of which I’m proud, and others, not so much.
Most importantly, I learned I’m a flawed individual who wants to be less so. I want to be the change I wish to see in our nation and to do that, I’ve got some work to do. I’m challenging myself to ask the hard questions and to listen more, even when it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing.
At the Center, we are committed to sheltering and supporting local families experiencing homelessness. To fulfill this mission, we, as homeless service providers, need to understand why Black families experience homelessness at disproportionate rates and what more we must be doing to balance this inequity. We need to look at ourselves, to uncover the ways we can be doing a better job to fight against systemic racism. As an agency, we are evaluating our policies and procedures to ensure that we are being respectful and sensitive to all; that differences are being considered in all that we do. We are evaluating all levels of the organization to ensure our Board, management and staff more closely reflects those we serve.
Like I said, I’ve got some work to do. Truly, we all do. Please join me.
Homelessness in America: Racial Inequities and the Black Community
We know that most racial minority groups experience homelessness disproportionately to their white counterparts; however, the Black community is particularly affected by this disparity. Homelessness is a symptom of racism, and if we ever want to right this imbalance, it’s imperative that we understand why this inequity is occurring in the first place.
A Day in the Life: Jason Chaplin, Housing Stability Advocate
Nonprofit professionals across sectors have seen their day-to-day change as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Things are no different here at St. Paul’s Center as our Housing Stability Advocates, who face new challenges we couldn’t have anticipated. To learn just how the pandemic is affecting our housing and homeless services, I sat down with one of our Housing Stability Advocates, Jason Chaplin, to chat.
Volunteer Spotlight | Cindy Harrington
Like many of our housing programs, our volunteer programs have been forced to adapt as a result of the spread of COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and the families we served many of these programs have been suspended, but that hasn’t stopped Cindy, one of our long-standing Special Events Volunteers. Join us in recognizing Cindy’s hard work and commitment to supporting our mission throughout these difficult times.
With the effects of the pandemic hitting persons experiencing homelessness particularly hard, our support services have become more important than ever. Nonetheless, we’ve had to get creative and pivot many of our volunteer programs to the virtual space to ensure the...
With the launch of our new Lee Dyer Family Apartments Program, we’ve brought Davida Cancer on staff to provide support and case management services to all participating parents and youth. In her new role, Davida has quickly learned just how important these services...
Throughout my time serving as Board President, it has become my personal mission to advocate for families experiencing homelessness across Rensselaer County; however, this was not always the case. It was only when I became involved with St. Paul’s Center that I...