Rob Spaulding's mission is to provide as much productive aid as possible to people experiencing homelessness, working within multiple collaborations, with the ultimate goal of moving their unhoused neighbors into better, safer lives. The Christian Center serves the unhoused community in Anderson and east-central Indiana by providing food, clothing, a place to address personal hygiene, shelter, opportunity and hope. Today on Mission Matters, he explains what that work is like, what led him to it, and what comes next.
Listen to the full interview of Adam Torres with Rob Spaulding on Mission Matters Business Podcast.
How did you get started on this mission?
Spaulding says helping others is in his DNA, as he grew up seeing his family doing the same. After graduating college and working as a financial officer in the healthcare industry, his passion for helping those in need was as strong as ever. So, he worked for a church and directed mission trips, leading teams to New York City to work with homeless communities. When the then-director of The Christian Center resigned, Spaulding was appointed to step in and move the organization forward.
What does "The Power of Collaboration to End Homelessness" mean?
A for-profit business's bottom line is about achieving monetary success, Spaulding explains, but in the nonprofit environment, everything is mission oriented, geared toward serving a purpose. "The Power of Collaboration to End Homelessness" involves collaborating with a variety of organizations to help people get what they need. Two or three organizations, for example, work together to help a family obtain employment and safe shelter for themselves, and a variety of collaborators can make it happen more quickly and effectively than just one organization, or several working out of sync with one another. The power, he explains, is in the collaboration itself.
What does The Christian Center rescue ministry do, and what's its reach?
The Christian Center rescue ministry was founded in 1955 by Lloyd Lambert, a WWII military veteran. He found men on the streets abusing alcohol and drugs. and decided to give them shelter in his home, shifting his own family to the basement. In time, he expanded his efforts, gradually opening a soup kitchen and the program grew over the years that followed, now serving around 2,000 men, women, and children annually. It is the only center in its town providing three meals a day. It offers separate shelters for men and women; the women's shelter is called Willow Place.
What is the Eleos Center?
Spaulding says the Eleos Center offers a host of services to help people seek a better life, from showers and laundry facilities to a place to receive mail and emails in order to access benefits they'd otherwise be deprived of because they don't have a mailing address or valid IDs. The center has collaborated with organizations providing healthcare benefits; HIV testing; and with the local health department offering a mobile van to check cholesterol levels, blood pressure, vaccines and more. Other organizations within the collaboration offer housing assistance, job training, mental health screenings and more.
The center also works with local hospitals, including Community Hospital of Anderson, Ascension Health, and Aspire Healthcare. Further, it partners with organizations that help with utility assistance, employment, job training, and more.
What makes it different from other approaches to combating homelessness?
While many organizations work on their own and try to do what they think is right, Spaulding says, when multiple organizations collaborate and work together as a system, they can help people in a more impactful way. With each organization focusing specifically on providing something from its own well of expertise, whether it's providing clothing that actually fits or matching someone with a job they're qualified for, a collaborative approach works holistically, helping people truly achieve their goals and move together toward ending the cycle of homelessness.
Spaulding says the center is identifying ways to use the Recovery Act funds available in their community, working out how best to use its resources to benefit the community. This year, the center is organizing a few fundraising events and planning to collaborate with additional partners to expand The Christian Center and its benefits.
Those local to Anderson, Indiana can walk in to the center, reach Rob Spaulding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 765-649-4264.
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