Year In Review: 2021
From Our Executive Director
As I write this letter, it’s hard for me to believe that I am already in my 8th month at First Stop. Time is moving quickly, and so many good things are happening here. Becoming the Executive Director of First Stop has been both exciting and exhilarating. The support we receive from the Huntsville community is incredible. Whether it is from individuals, churches, businesses or civic groups, First Stop is definitely well-loved, and I am so appreciative of that.
Deciding to join the team at First Stop was one of the easiest professional decisions I have ever made. While I knew the position would have its challenges, I was completely drawn to its mission. At First Stop, we see the strengths and gifts of each individual. We know that every person we meet is capable of making important changes and overcoming difficult situations to improve their quality of life. The excellence of our case management department is remarkable because their passion is equally matched by skills and expertise. First Stop case managers have changed the lives of so many individuals and continue to affect the lives of many more today. Each of us comes face-to-face with the success of First Stop in helping our clients reach their full potential, but the personal story of our past client, Tom Roper, embodies the mission and purpose of First Stop. His story is the reason I am proud to be part of this impactful organization.
Six months ago, Tom was sleeping on a church property in Huntsville behind an HVAC unit. A life filled with addictions and severe health issues left Tom without a place to live. People can experience homelessness in many ways. Some people couch surf, jumping from one friend’s house to another. Some end up in an emergency shelter, some in their cars, some in encampments in the woods, and some, like Tom, end up in a sleeping bag behind a church. Tom needed help and thankfully he found First Stop
Like nearly 100 other members of the homeless community, Tom began visiting the First Stop Day Center regularly. Initially he came for a hot breakfast and lunch, to take a shower, and to do his laundry. As Tom became more familiar with First Stop, he began to make friendships with the volunteers and staff. Those relationships would empower Tom to reach his full potential and overcome the homelessness he had experienced for so long.
Our team of case managers is the key to our mission and the success of so many stories like Tom’s. Tom participated in the Case Management Program and built a plan to help him overcome homelessness. This plan included making sure Tom’s healthcare needs were met. Many people experiencing homelessness are not able to receive needed medications due to their cost. Thanks to our partnership with Huntsville Hospital, we were able to help Tom get life-saving prescription medications.
One other key component to Tom’s plan was to secure income. When an individual has not worked for a long period of time, getting a job and maintaining stable income are often a challenge. Thankfully, Tom was able to participate in our Casual Labor Program at First Stop. This job readiness training program allows our case management clients to work for us on our campus.They receive a stable income, encouraging supervision, and good work ethics. This program is often the steppingstone to other jobs in the community.
The fact is that Huntsville is a growing, desirable city. Because of that, our homeless population is growing too. Homelessness is closer than we may realize. In fact, First Stop is only half a mile away from one of the most dynamic entertainment and dining campuses in Huntsville. Not only that, but homelessness is close to many individuals in our community that may not be prepared for a sudden job loss, divorce, or health problem.
Help Drive Our Mission to Encounter, Connect, and Empower
Tom’s success is a great story. We want to be able to tell more and more great stories about the success of our clients overcoming homelessness. Thanks to your support, Tom has a home. Please read this blog to learn more about Tom’s story and make a donation to help First Stop celebrate more people like Tom.
Thank you for your continued support,