Devin Jenkins Brings a Heritage of Empathy and Compassion to CSS Board
Many CSS volunteers work behind the scenes to help keep this community-based nonprofit moving forward. Serving as a CSS board member is one way to help bring constructive oversight and vision to the organization.
Devin Jenkins has served two years on the CSS board and is currently the board president. He brings a broad understanding of what is needed to maintain strong, community-based opportunities for people facing challenges that come with living without a place to call home.
The CSS board supports the three-person administrative directors team to help guide the organization towards its short- and long-term goals.
“I have a real passion for a community-based model helping people, and CSS does this in a pretty amazing way,” Devin says. “This organization is a model for building collaboration and using resources in a cost-effective way.
“We’re not heavy with administrative expenses. That allows us to stretch our funding to make the most of everything that comes to CSS. Most funding comes from our donor base, and lately the City has stepped up to support the recent expansion of Huts and Safe Spots in 2021.
“We’re very grateful for that support from both private and public contributions.”
Devin brings a unique perspective to the CSS board from his work at Laurel Hill Center, where he is director of facilities and housing programs..
Laurel Hill serves people with social, emotional, and cognitive challenges. One of its programs provides low-income housing for eligible people. The wait list to move into a Laurel Hill apartment or living unit is very lengthy. He understands very well the uphill challenges many people face in securing safe housing.
Devin was recruited to the CSS board by board members whom he had previously worked with through other nonprofits.
“Devin graciously accepted the mantle as board president this past year,” says CSS Grants and Contracts Coordinator Tod Schneider. “He has been an invaluable asset to CSS. He’s been very steady at the helm while we navigated some rough spots, including ongoing growing pains from our massive expansion.
“He also helped facilitate some challenging Covid-19 conversations about how best to keep folks safe.”
Devin graduated from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, in 2001 with a degree in biology, but felt drawn to the Northwest to work with kids, especially in outdoor settings.
He first moved to Oregon in 2001 to become program coordinator with Northwest Youth Corp. He’s also worked as an outdoor youth coordinator in Bend and in a variety of jobs with Looking Glass Community Services in Eugene.
So, how did it happen that someone with a science background became interested in helping kids and adults lead more stable lives?
“It was actually my Dad who’s been my inspiration for doing this work,” Devin says.
Devin’s Dad worked as a policeman and managed security with the housing authority in Syracuse. He was passionate about helping those struggling with poverty and housing insecurity, and sometimes took Devin to housing projects where he worked, which opened Devin’s eyes to the many challenges people face when life struggles become overwhelming.
“What I learned more than anything in those visits was empathy and compassion for people,” he says.