Lobbying for the Inclusion of Advocacy
By Martin Lehfeldt
Long before I joined the board, I had lobbied hard for the inclusion of an advocacy component to the work of the Central Outreach & Advocacy Center Center. So, when Lee Carroll asked me to become part of the governance team, it was time to put up or shut up.
It has been a wonderful six-year run, made especially meaningful for me by the way in which the advocacy part of the program has continued to develop. We still have a long way to go, but we also have made significant progress on that front. Two facts stand out in my mind: there are still too many laws and regulations that make it easy for people to slip into a condition of homelessness and difficult to escape it, and a lot more people (including legislators and well-intentioned church-going folks) need to be educated about the facts, so they can respond in a helpful way.
I’m also very pleased with the way that the OAC has brought increased focus to bear on a case management approach to working with our guests, even while continuing to provide emergency assistance. The Main Frame Job Readiness Program continues to generate positive results, and I only hope we can increase the scale of its operations.
None of our progress would be possible without the assistance of loyal volunteers and a growing cadre of donors who have caught the spirit that what we are doing at the Central Outreach & Advocacy Center is important and deserves support. They and the dedicated staff have made my involvement one of my most enjoyable experiences in the not-for-profit world.
Martin Lehfeldt went to work at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) and adopted the South as his home in 1969. Before that time he had graduated from Haverford College and Union Theological Seminary in New York, been a newspaper reporter, and spent four years as a program director for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton. After 10 years in the Atlanta University Center, he formed his own firm and provided fund raising, planning, and organizational development consulting to local, regional, and national not-for-profit organizations for 18 years. He became the President of the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) in 1998 and held that position for 11 years. Mr. Lehfeldt is the author of The Sacred Call (a biography of Donald L. Hollowell),Notes from a Nonprofitable Life, and Thinking about Things (a collection of his monthly newsletter columns while at SECF, and the editor of On Our Way Rejoicing, compiled in celebration of Central Presbyterian Church’s 150th anniversary. He is a former board member and chair of the Academy Theatre, the Center for Positive Aging, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the National Hurricane Fund for the Elderly, Literacy Action, Inc., and Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and just completed his service as a board member of the Central Outreach and Advocacy Center. He is married to the former Linda Graham. They have three productive, mortgage-paying children and three grandchildren.