by Kimberly Parker
What is the mission of Central Outreach & Advocacy Center (Central OAC)?
“We open doors to overcome and prevent homelessness.”
Our mission statement has changed over the years. This latest version was adopted by our Board of Directors in 2017 in conjunction with our new current three-year strategic plan. I often begin any talk I give with our mission statement and then go on to share how we accomplish our mission through our three main programs: supportive services, job readiness, and advocacy.
In sharing about our mission, I also talk about how we are not going to eliminate homelessness on our own. As we provide our vital services and work in partnership with other agencies, I believe we can make a difference for those who find themselves in a situation of homelessness. It takes all of us working together, doing the work we each do well, to truly make a difference. We work with Mercy Care to give our guests access to medical care. We work with Georgia Law Center to give our guests access to legal assistance. We can’t do these things alone.
Our mission statement guides all of the work we do. Anytime we are thinking about making a change to our programs or services, I ask myself if the change will allow us to carry out our mission. In addition to our mission, we have also recently developed core values and tenets for our organization. I wanted our team to have some guiding principles for our work and for who we are as an organization. The team sat down over a year ago with our Board Chair, Jeff Hilimire. He led us through an exercise to help us get at the heart of who we are as an organization serving those experiencing homelessness.
We developed three tenets that defines the work we do:
We open doors to overcome and prevent homelessness by:
- empowering our guests to take the next step toward self-sufficiency.
- passionately and intentionally telling our guests’ stories to educate others.
- ensuring we have the resources to be at our best.
In addition to our tenets, we developed four core values:
We believe in meeting people where they are with patience and humility and treating each person with respect and dignity.
I firmly believe that if you sit down and observe with one of our staff or volunteers while they serve our guests, you will see each person living out our values. These values are critical in creating trust with our guests, which I believe to be the first step in helping someone overcome homelessness.
The issue of homelessness is complicated. Many barriers exist. There is no easy fix. It takes time. It takes relationship building. It takes navigating through difficult processes and systems. It takes resources. Unfortunately, it’s the resources that are often the barrier to doing more for those experiencing homelessness. Non-profits like Central OAC regularly struggle to find foundations, government monies, and individual donors to continually support the good work that is done on a daily basis. Central OAC has had its ups and downs in the funding arena and certainly one of my biggest tasks as the Executive Director is to make sure the monies continue to come in to support the programs and services we offer.
As a result, I will keep telling our story and our guests’ stories because I know that we can make a difference. I know that we can continue to open doors to overcome and prevent homelessness. For those of you who already support us, thank you. For those who may want to get more involved, let’s talk. Your support will go a long way to ensure that our staff and volunteers are able to continue the good work that has already begun!