Tara Levy: Hi Irit! Please tell us a little about your organization and its mission.
Irit Umani, Executive Director: The Trinity Center was created by a parishioner of the St. David’s Episcopal Church, which is located across the street for the main hub of service providers to the homeless population here in Austin. It was created from the community’s commitment to serve the less fortunate and to “love thy neighbor.” The mission of Trinity Center is to serve the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the homeless and poor in Austin.
Trinity Center offers a sense of belonging to a community; it accepts folks where they are and is open to all no matter their ability and/or readiness to make progress. Trinity Center is based on a spiritual practice of loving all and on a commitment to compassion in action.
Tara: Thanks. Can you talk a little bit more the services you provide that put this compassion into action?
Irit: We offer a short devotional service and breakfast each morning, case management to those who choose it, and some financial assistance aimed at re-establishing lost documents, co-pay for medication, and bus passes.
Two days a week we serve women only, because women are the most vulnerable and least served among the homeless population. We offer homeless and poor women a weekly support group, access to showers and to lightly-used clothes.
Trinity Center also provides access to computers, a free-of-charge phone line, a mailing address to those with no address, and computer classes. Twice a week we host Art From the Street—a unique organization that offers a free-of-charge art studio to homeless people.
You know, I came here following nearly twenty years of work in the women movement to end Domestic Violence, and I have deep respect for the huge accomplishments of this movement which is saving millions of lives. And yet, like many other social movements, it started by many small groups of women, often meeting in their own homes, who got together as sisters to change women’s status in society. With the passing of years it moved from sisters helping sisters to professionals helping clients.
It becomes about how many people you can prove that you moved from point A to point B. Trinity Center helps people move from point A to point B by acceptance, by love, AND with professional services. It became for me the dreamed about opportunity to merge my professional life with my spiritual journey and to live with no separation between these two important components of who I am.
Tara: In what ways would you say that Trinity Center benefited from its Greenlights membership?
Irit: First of all, I benefited from the work with Greenlights personally, as Greenlights was hired by the Trinity Center’s Board of Directors to conduct the search for a new Executive Director in 2009, which resulted with me being offered and accepting the position. This is one of the best jobs I have ever had, and so though this is a very personal answer, I am in personal gratitude to Greenlights.
While the board was searching for a new Executive Director, Greenlights placed Jack Nokes as an Interim Executive Director and the work, the order, and the analysis of the organization that he accomplished in six months has been nothing short of a new Director’s dream. Going forward, my hope and plan is to work with Greenlights on the organization’s strategic planning.
Tara: What advice do you have for other nonprofits who might be facing challenges similar to Trinity Center?
Irit: To stay true to their mission and values, to seek professional assistance, such as Greenlights offers, when needed, to cultivate heart & truth-based relationships among themselves, and to place the people served at the top of their priorities.
Tara: Would you recommend Greenlights membership to other nonprofits? Why?
Irit: With no hesitation. Because Greenlights takes the time to study the organization and to professionally analyze their level of existence and their needs and then offers the tools that enable an organization to move forward and grow.
Learn more about the great work of the Trinity Center or get involved at www.trinitycenteraustin.org.
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