Thursday, August 11, 2016

It's All about the People

Our new not so secret weapon, Lester Collins, Jr., with our veteran not so secret weapon, Freda Coleman, HMIS trainer extraordinaire (and expert selfie taker!)
We may talk about systems and solutions based research, results and data, but what really ends homelessness is people, doing the work, to build those systems and implement those solutions. This is the reason for MDHA's most recent hire, Lester Collins, Jr., in the newly created position of Continuum of Care (CoC) Performance Analyst. Lester possesses an array of skills earned as a clinician, chaplain, social science professor, and program manager of federal and state programs. He is a doctoral candidate at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), and helped conduct a 2012 UTA-DHA-MDHA collaborative study on homelessness. Simply put, the man breathes research, results and data! That said, Lester always keep in mind, "that any numbers I work with and policies and programs I work on, represent and affect real, living and breathing people, who deserve communities that are responsive to their needs."

If you accept the argument that what really makes up our system is people, what follows is that each person's best resource is... all the rest of the people in the system! One of the first things our Vice President, Rebecca Cox, noticed, when she joined MDHA a little over year ago (Congrats on the work anniversary, Rebecca!) was that the most important folks, the very lynch pins, without whom there is no system, Case Managers, were not familiar enough with their own colleagues. They are just so busy doing the work, helping those experiencing homelessness! With this in mind, she founded the Case Manager Networking Round Table, where these professionals are able to get together every month. Together they study an important subject that will help them, help those experiencing homelessness, while getting to know each other a little better. Then when they have a need or hit a roadblock in their work, they can call upon the variety of colleagues they now know, who do what they do, day in and day out.

Our CoC Assembly leaders, Edd Eason and Dustin Perkins, with the able help of our CoC Resource Manager, Shavon Moore, recently "imported" this idea to the recent meeting of the Assembly. This last meeting was spent not sitting in rows listening to reports and doing regular business, which is always important. Instead, as you can see in the picture below, seating this time was "family style", and the groups discussed specific questions regarding the NOFA and CoC Competition. However, an openly stated goal of this session was to allow participants to get to know each other, so they could draw on each other's help throughout this important process, and beyond. It was a fabulous session!
CoC Assembly hard at work
We depend on people in one more very important way. People, as individuals, and making up organizations and businesses, provide financial support, without which we could not do our work. This past month we were honored to receive two notable contributions: The Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation contributed $15,000 to the MDHA Flex Fund, and the East Plano Islamic Center (EPIC) contributed $2,500 to MDHA's general fund. These contributions, show the Federal Government that our community is willing to "have skin in the game," and considers the former as a true partner. Let's make sure King and EPIC don't get "lonely" now! Join them in making your own contribution, as an individual, a business or an organization, and strike your own blow in the fight to end homelessness, in our home, Dallas and Collin Counties.

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