The vision and commitment to create a community-based non-profit providing stable shelter options for people experiencing homelessness started with Kristin Fay and Erik de Buhr. But the growing group of dedicated staff members and several dozen volunteers help keep the wheels of the organization turning every day of the year.
Mona trains new volunteers at the front desk (which is the first interface applicants encounter when they come to the CSS office), compiles and organizes data for grant-writing and record keeping, assists with camp policies and program planning, and keeps the paperwork organized for tracking client progress during their stay in a Safe Spot community.
“Mona is amazing,” says CSS Co-Executive Director Kristin Fay de Buhr. “She is so fully committed in her heart and soul to the work of Community Supported Shelters. Mona is a wizard at keeping track of all the client program details, so many details, and she keeps everything very organized”.
Mona started as a front-desk volunteer in December 2015, helping new clients get on the waiting list for entry into a Safe Spot and sharing information with them about other useful community programs. As the mission of CSS expanded, Mona was asked to join the office staff, starting at 18 hours a week in 2016. She now works approximately 32 hours a week, and the work of keeping records of the myriad parts of the organization continues to grow.
The role of service coordinator keeps morphing as the organization has grown over the past several years. “The position is not set in stone by any means,” Mona says. “It keeps evolving as we see what’s needed to keep the camps and program running as efficiently as possible.”
Mona’s understanding of the need to provide temporary stable shelter for people whose lives are in crisis has grown. “Hearing clients’ personal stories demonstrates to me again and again how the uplift of simply receiving temporary shelter helps turn things around for many people we serve,” she says. “And the gratitude expressed by them for compassionate basic support is deeply heartfelt.”
She adds, “My perspective has also changed as to how people with mental illness do their best to cope, but are not always successful at retaining stable, long-term housing. That’s where CSS offers some basic support until a person either stabilizes with medication or counseling, or supportive housing in the larger community can be established.”
Mona recognizes the importance of a growing group of supporters to keep the work of the CSS vision alive. “Visions need worker bees to make things happen, and that’s where the many volunteers and donors make CSS truly a community effort.”
“The name ‘Community Supported Shelters’ has always seemed to me to be an inspired one—fostering community in the camps and engaging the wider Eugene/Springfield community to support the Safe Spot program’s success.
“What a wild ride it’s been these past 2½ years,” Mona says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute my part.”
Kristin Fay is just as grateful to have Mona’s contribution: “Mona’s ability to stay calm and flexible with all the changes we’ve experienced at CSS is a huge asset and blessing. She is very smart, supportive, loving, a wonderful co-worker, a teacher, and a beautiful friend. She is an incredible asset to Community Supported Shelters in so many ways.”