FROM THE DESK OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – JANUARY 2011

iritThe end of a calendar year and my first year in the role of the Executive Director of Trinity Center and I am in love with this very unique place. Trinity Center offers volunteers, staff and the people we serve, our neighbors, the opportunity to awaken spiritually by practicing the path of love and service.  Trinity Center is a true manifestation of a road that was pointed to us by the spiritual teachers of all traditions and is best summarized in the commandment to “Love thy neighbor”.  While breaking our hearts open daily, we are blessed to be in the presence of Jesus-like and Buddha-like beings who serve for the sake of service and create a community of equals in an otherwise world of hierarchy that separates the haves from the haves not and the powerful and the powerless. “No one is free until everyone is free” is a quote from Martin Luther King that comes to mind as I am writing this letter on Martin Luther King’s day. The neighbors that we serve who suffer from abject poverty, who are homeless and don’t have access to basic needs that most of us take for granted, are not free. By feeding, assisting, and mostly by respecting and loving all, we are playing a small part, our part, in making this a better world and for this opportunity we are immensely blessed. The mottos that guide me in my work are “love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God”, by one of my spiritual teachers, Neem Karoli Baba, and “Be the change that you want to see in the world”, the famous instruction given to us by Mahatma Ghandi. Granted, we often fall short of these big aspirations, yet our commitment is deep and our attempt is sincere.

In 2010 Trinity Center grew in significant ways.  In February we re-opened our doors on Tuesdays, offering a second weekday to serve homeless women. Tuesday program includes access to showers in full privacy, financial assistance, and a weekly support group. In June we welcomed Art from the Streets to operate from our center their two afternoons a week studio/art class for homeless artist. Together with St. David Episcopal church, in which building we are housed, we hosted their yearly art show that was a big success. Since April we give office space to ACEES/PATH for intake and case management to mentally challenged homeless people. We continue our past collaborations by hosting an outreach program of the VA for homeless veterans, a monthly testing for HIV and Hepatitis is offered by the Right House, and we host a weekly support group for formerly incarcerated people. In 2011 we are adding Wednesday afternoons for the use of the Foundation For the Homeless, which houses homeless families in church spaces, for their intake and case management. Trinity Center is also used by St. David for their emergency cold weather shelter for women Fri-Sun, when the weather is below freezing.

Trinity Center operates by the good hearts and the work of a small staff and many volunteers, and by seeking contributions from individuals and grants from foundations. In this too we were very blessed, ending 2010 with a small surplus. These are not easy economic times for non-profits’ efforts to fundraise and secure their budgets. We are deeply grateful for all who contributed to Trinity Center in 2010. My goal for 2011 is to free Trinity Center from a “traditional” summer time budget crisis, by continuing to expend our fundraising effort and reaching a situation in which Trinity Center has the equivalent of three months of operating cost at our disposal at all times. Please contact our volunteers’ coordinator at meghann@trinitycenteraustin.org to join us in service, and visit us on www.trinitycenteraustin.org and clicking on “Donate” to help us financially. Together we will create the change we want to see.

I am yours in service,                        

Irit Umani