As we begin the new year, we're reviving our blog features! First up is our Board President, Tony Butler, who took his new position back in September. I had the opportunity to talk to Tony about his connections to the community, his plans as Board President, and what JOURNEYS | Lives Here means to him.
"Much earlier in my career I was working as a firefighter paramedic in Hoffman Estates, and I went to a medical call in a motel. When we went inside there was a family of four and two dogs living in this small motel room. The two kids were at the little table doing their homework, and they had all their personal belongings stacked up to the ceiling, and a little cooktop apparatus on the counter to cook their food. I just thought, 'We've got to do better with this. I know we can do better than this and help people in these situations.'
So, when Beth, our Executive Director, asked me to be on the Board in 2019, remembering that experience years ago, I didn’t hesitate. For the last two years we've had to be focused on COVID and the construction of the new building and raising the necessary funds. As Board President, I really want the Board to start thinking more strategically and taking a longer view of things now that the new building is up and that we're back to normal operations since the interruptions at start of the pandemic.
I’m going to start thinking about how we structure our board by forming smaller committees focused on specific issues. This will allow the Board to focus hard on these key areas, and move our mission forward!
As we look toward the next three to five years, we want to make sure we’re maximizing our operations, using our facility to its full benefit and maximizing its impact. Our service area stretches from Streamwood all the way to Lake Michigan. That’s a lot of people within a large area where JOURNEYS makes a footprint.
When I think of where JOURNEYS lives, it really lives everywhere. We have the opportunity before us to improve a lot of lives. "
Transcribed and arranged by Roxanne Gentry, Marketing Associate
Meet our newest Board Member, Kevin Mathew, a former case manager at JOURNEYS who now works for the State of Illinois. We're so excited to bring Kevin on "Board"! Read below for more on Kevin's history and future with JOURNEYS!
"Social work is a field where you help others empower themselves. It’s such a diverse field. One social worker can help a person with resume-building assistance, while another could be working at a hospital.
I am currently working as a caseworker at the State of Illinois Department of Human Services. I help individuals who apply for state benefit programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medical Assistance, and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). An interview must be done in order to see if a person is eligible for these benefits. I go through the customer’s application with them to review their information and see if there are any discrepancies.
It really is an honor to be partnering with JOURNEYS again. I worked at JOURNEYS back in 2017 as a vocational case manager, and I really enjoyed my time here. It was always such a great feeling to hear from a client that they obtained a job opportunity.
JOURNEYS was also a great place for me to build my skills as a social worker, and I really felt like I was making positive changes in my local community. So now that I am on the board, it feels like a continuation of the work I put in back in 2017, but now I get to bring a new perspective to the table.
I am glad that JOURNEYS for this opportunity, and it is truly an honor. As a new member, I am trying to soak in all the knowledge I can get from my fellow board members and how we as a team can empower those in our community even further. I think I bring a unique perspective to the board since I had previously worked at JOURNEYS, and I continue to work as a caseworker now. It allows me to share my experiences on the ground level of helping individuals in our local community. I am excited to attend my first board meeting and for the future of JOURNEYS!"
Transcribed and arranged by Roxanne Gentry, Marketing Associate
Continuing to meet more people within the JOURNEYS community, I had the chance to talk with one of our Board Members, Lori. Lori talked about her history in the area, her work with JOURNEYS, and how her day job helps provide a unique perspective and approach to helping those in need in her community.
Take a look at what she had to say!
"I grew up in Buffalo Grove, and my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to raise our three kids in this community and send our kids to the same high school we both attended.
We started working with PADS out of our church when our kids were in high school, and we did that as a family for about 10 years. It's really been an important part of our family to work within our community and do what we can to help members in our community that are facing homelessness or dealing with homelessness directly.
I'm an attorney by trade, and while my daily work isn’t really related to non-profit work, it does allow me to think analytically and critically about problem-solving and risk mitigation. I can use some of those day-job skills to have more systemic impact in my community than just volunteering.
In 2020 I was fortunate enough to participate in the United Way Board Leadership Institute. It was a great training program for people who want to serve on non-profit boards. Through that program I was connected with JOURNEYS. I don't know that I really, fully understood the breadth of JOURNEYS’ profile in the community before that since I was previously only working with PADS program.
Beth, JOURNEYS’ Executive Director, is such a dynamic leader and very much engaged in this community, has lived in this community forever like me. I really loved her leadership style, and I was thrilled to be able to use my opportunity to serve on JOURNEYS’ board to better support the homeless community and expand services, especially during COVID.
JOURNEYS has had programs that we've had in place for years that we've totally had to pivot from because of the pandemic, and I think that the staff has done an amazing job. The board has really just tried to support them along the way. So what we are trying to do - and I think the new building is evidence of this - is to evolve with the needs of the community.
JOURNEYS has done an excellent job of trying to partner with existing community organizations that are already supporting this population in different areas, connecting them with mental health services, job services, and housing services. The care teams that are interfacing with people one-on-one have also had to get creative. For example, there have been clients for whom the best thing is to get them connected with a family member, and their family might be out in California or somewhere across the country. A train ticket could be a resource to this individual to get them back on the right track. It’s important to think creatively about what the community needs are, and how we can pivot our programs to meet the needs that exist today.
As a community, I think we do a really good job of providing opportunities for supporting JOURNEYS in a number of different ways. Some people are involved day-to-day either working at the [HOPE] Center and working directly with clients, while others are delivering food, or doing some once-a-week or once-a-month support.
Our events are another fun way to support JOURNEYS. I was just at the self-defense class, and I took my two nieces who are both in college. Everyone had a really good time, and it was very rewarding to be involved. We have lots of other events, like the Casino Night and the Bid for HOPE Gala that's coming up in the fall, and even a golf outing. There are lots ways for the community to make a connection and it's really rewarding to be one-on-one with people that are in your community and making an impact where you live."
-Arranged by Roxanne Gentry, Marketing Associate