By Micah Center Office Manager Vicki Browne
As I celebrate my second anniversary here, the Micah Center itself celebrates its fifth anniversary. In October of 2014 the doors opened to give people experiencing homelessness, or teetering on the brink of homelessness, a place to equip and empower themselves to find a way into stable housing. After reading notes from early staff meetings, talking to folks who were there at the start, and reflecting on my experiences at the front desk, some interesting observations can be made.
Staff members have come and gone, or come and stayed. Workshops have run their course, or been retooled. Meals have been shared. Countless cups of coffee have been consumed. Dozens upon dozens of donuts have been donated and devoured. Whoever was sitting in the ‘HOT’ seat in the reception area needed to provide Hospitality, Organization, and Triage –greeting people as they came in, managing requests and donations, and finding the right connection, or at least the best available connection, at the moment.
Guests and staff agree that the Micah Center has come a long way in five years. There weren’t many rules or procedures in the early days. Chore days were one of the first changes that helped Micah evolve into a place where we all work together. Although each receptionist has altered the way the list appears, and the cleaning processes and supplies have changed, each new guest learns that Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays have an added responsibility.
Initially, the Micah Center was not very busy, especially during the summer season. Now, we are hopping every week of the year. Two case managers were on staff at the beginning, and one or two new guests arrived each week. Now we have four case managers, and on average, two new guests arrive each day. We have always served breakfast during the summer season and sweets year-round. Our café only seats a dozen people, so as we have become busier, eating requires multiple seatings. And our faithful regulars–volunteers, organizations, and businesses, help us keep the Micah Center as warm and welcoming as it was initially intended to be.
We will continue to evolve. Programming will change to meet needs and goals. The layout will shift to accommodate those needs and goals. Folks will come and go, and perhaps return. We will always be running out of something –currently creamer, and overrun with something –often hotel shampoos and lotions. People with big hearts–staff, guests and volunteers, will step up when a problem needs to be solved, or a room needs to be painted, or donations need to be moved, or a bathroom needs immediate attention. Each day will have tough decisions, hearty laughs, and moments of beautiful grace. Through it all we will continue to be called to act justly, love mercifully and walk humbly.