Executive Director’s report for year 2012

Trinity Center is based on a philosophy and practice of radical hospitality and compassion. Many of the people served see us as their Community Center. They participate in keeping it welcoming and safe for all. Trinity Center created a caring environment where people are fed physically, emotionally and spiritually. For those who are not sheltered, no other organization in Austin offers such a community Center setting for the homeless population. Because the homeless people, here as in most places, are under served, harshly judged and not welcomed in downtown, creating safe and welcoming environment serves both the needs of the poor and the need of the city. We offer much needed basic services, as described in this report, and we are proud about how we do it. We believe that all people deserve respect and care and are committed to offer our services this way.

In 2012 Trinity Center initiated a city-wide collaboration effort in response to years of severe shortage in services to homeless single women. We did this in addition to our regular and on-going programs.

This report summarizes our on- going programs, the Safe Sleep for Women Initiative, and the organization’s personnel and financial report for 2012.

Basic needs: Trinity Center offers assistance with basic needs, without which moving out of homelessness is impossible. We are the source for more than 400 individuals for as basic needs as having a mailing address and access to free phone and to computers, and we feed breakfast to 60- 80 people on each weekday. We offer access to clothes and showers to women, with two mornings a week for women only as a safe haven.

Financial Assistance: When people have no place to store any possessions and documents they end up losing documents without which they find themselves out of the system and unable to move on. Our financial assistance program is aimed at helping people in ways that are focused on making progress toward ending their homelessness. We assist people by paying the fees to acquire lost ID documents, we cover the co-pay on prescribed medications, and we offer bus-passes assistance that enable people to keep scheduled appointments and move around. In 2012 we assisted 357 people to get their Birth Certificate, 492 with a Texas ID, 117 with medications, over 1,000 with bus passes.

Case Management Program: In 2012 we offered weekly case management to 89 homeless people. Our case management program is coordinated and supervised by a clinical social worker who supervises interns from the UT and Texas State schools of social work.  Being on case management is not mandated and is considered a privilege, offered to those who are ready to make a tangible progress in their journey out of homelessness. While on case management people make progress such as starting to receive benefits that they are entitled to but did not receive and move from streets to shelters, boarding home, and rental units.

Collaborations: Resources are limited and Trinity Center strongly believes in collaborations with other service providers and in unduplicated services. Established and recognized by other service providers as a viable place for successful outreach programs, we offer free of charge office space and access to the following programs and organizations:

1. ATCIC (serving the mentally challenged) uses our facility twice a week.

2. C.A.R.E (free testing for HIV and Hepatitis) uses our space once a month.

3. FFH, Caritas, and Front Steps use our space to offer their BBS+ program (rental assistance and intake to shelter for families) twice a week.

4. Doyle’s Clinic offers free basic health care clinic by supervised medical students twice a month.

5. The office of the VA’s outreach program to homeless veterans offers services at Trinity Center once a week.

6. Art From the Streets – twice a week free art studio and once a year a weekend long art sale show.

7. Austin Free Net – daily access to computers with instructors.

8. The Challenger – weekly meeting with access to computers for the  contributors and vendors of a streets newspaper.

All the organizations that use Trinity Center for their outreach programs report to us that people are more approachable and responsive to them while at Trinity Center. Because they feel welcomed, supported, and safe, they trust the service providers and use what they offer. Our biggest collaboration this year was the creation of Safe Sleep for Women, as detailed separately in this report.

Personnel and volunteers: This year, Amber Philips, our case management supervisor, left Trinity Center and moved to Malaysia. We hired Emily Prince who was embraced by staff and assumed her role fully. Our beloved security guard for over five years, left to pursue a career as an editor and book reviewer. Replacing him turned out to be a challenge for the security company that we were in contract with. We signed a contract with another company and, Mr. Steve Keiffer, our new security person started working with us in December. Hannah Pommersheim joined us as our AmeriCorps volunteer, as did four Social Work interns.

Volunteers: Trinity Center cannot run without the many volunteers who serve with us daily by performing important tasks as running the kitchen, the front desk, the women closet and shower programs, and cultivating relationship with the people. This year we incorporated some of the served neighbors as volunteers.

Average number of weekly volunteers: 35

  • Individual community members
  • Students from the AISD Go Project
  • St. Mark’s/Shower Program

Number of churches participating in Trinity Streets: 11

  • Agape Christian Ministries
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Good Shepherd
  • Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (served once)
  • St. Andrew’s School
  • St. David’s/St. David’s Youth/St. David’s Singers
  • St. Paul’s
  • St. James’
  • St. Michael’s
  • Trinity Episcopal School
  • UT Episcopal

Total volunteer hours: 6,450

Approximate in-kind contribution from volunteer time: $140,545.50

We are deeply grateful to each and every one.

Financial summary: We did well financially and ended the year with a surplus. We were very accurate with our budget in relation to our actual expense. Trinity Center’s total expenses for 2012 came to $320,600. Contributions to Trinity Center in 2012 came at 49% from grants and 51% from individuals/families/businesses. The previous year 57% of revenue came from grants and 43% from individuals/families. The most notable change to our fundraising efforts this year was the revenue from the Barbara Jordan fundraising event which brought Trinity Center $84,000 in revenue, twice as much as the previous year. Total revenue from grant decreased a bit.
To all our contributors, funders, supporters – a deep bow of gratitude!

Safe Sleep for women: At the end of June the community at large, and Trinity Center in particular, experienced the death of two women neighbors, Lynn Beall from illness and Valery Godoy who was brutally murdered. On July 6th a meeting of representatives of all the organizations in Austin that serve the homeless population was initiated and gathered by Trinity Center as a call to action for the creation of an emergency (immediate) and  long term solutions for homeless single women. Short term and long term’s committees were appointed and started work. We met with city’s Council members, with the office of the Mayor, and with county judge Biscoe and spoke at city Council meetings. Advocating committee included: Trinity Center, Foundation For the Homeless, Ending Community Homelessness, Safe Place, Salvation Army, and Christi Moore as a representing of homeless women.

Short term: Members of the coalition approached different churches requesting of them a commitment to host 50 single homeless women for a week at a time, following the models of the Cold Weather Shelter and the Interfaith Hospitality Network. A total of six churches participated. The program was launched on September 2nd, less than two months from the first gathering of the coalition, and offered Safe Sleep for women for three months, until November 30th. A total of 193 (!) individual women used the Safe Sleep Program with over 50 on the most populated nights and 30-35 most nights. Trinity Center took on being the weekly registration place (each Sunday 5:30-8:30PM) and the gathering place each evening for the shuttle service to the hosting church of the week. Foundation For Homeless took charge of shuttling women to/from the assigned church every evening and morning, as well as assigning coordinators and collecting the data. In general FFH and Trinity Center were the two organizations that implemented the short term solution.

To assist churches in their decision to step in with such short notice, we decided to hire a security person (9pm-6am each day), a coordinator for the evenings (7:30-10:00pm), and to shuttle the women to/from the churches. The funding came from Religious Coalition to Assist the Homeless, from private donors, and from the City of Austin. By the time we started implementation funding for the ten week program was secured.

Median term: With financial commitment from the city, and given their existing facilities, the Salvation Army was appointed to implement the median and the long term aspects of creating more services and offer more beds to homeless women in Austin.

Salvation Army worked with the city to re-figure their existing space such that it can now accommodate 32 additional beds for women and additional case management positions to serve them. Though renovation was not complete, Salvation Army offered the additional beds for women on November 30th in coordination with the last date of the short term program.

Long term: We came in at the last month of the city’s discussion and decision making process on a bond to be voted on in the November election and advocated to add an additional $2,000,000 to the Health and Human Services bond (Prop 17). The Proposition passed by voters. This money will be used to further build and renovate a shelter for women and children operated by Salvation Army. Once complete the 65 beds currently allocated for women and children at S.A’s downtown location will be available for single women, while all women with children will be located in the newly build and renovated shelter. The success we achieved in adding to the bond at the stage that we came into the process was beyond anyone’s expectation.

Participating churches: St. David’s Episcopal, First Baptist, St. Martin’s Lutheran, First United Methodist, University Methodist, and University Baptist.

Main participating organizations: ECHO, Trinity Center, Foundation For the Homeless, Salvation Army, Religious Coalition to Assist the Homeless, ATCIC.

Supporting Organizations: Safe Place, Front Steps, The Cluster, the Challenger, St. Mary Catholic House,
Though exhausting at moments, this is a most satisfying initiatives that Trinity Center launched and participated in, with success that is way beyond expectation. It would not have happen without Trinity Center’s vision and initiative and the amazing collaboration and coming together of non-profits and service providers.
Trinity Center received two awards for its leadership role in Safe Sleep, one from the city of Austin and one from the University Mason Lodge.

Deep gratitude is due to the dedicated staff, board of directors, volunteers, donors and grantors for your support of Trinity Center, its mission and ministry. None of what we accomplished this year could have been achieved without all of you! As you blessed, so may you be blessed.

I am, as always, yours in service,

Irit Umani
Executive Director
Trinity Center
304 E. 7th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Tel: 512-610-3560
irit@TrinityCenterAustin.org

“See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see” Dr. Wayne Dyer
“Love everyone, serve everyone, and Remember God” Neen Karoli