Executive Director of The Shelter at New Hope
Currently a resident of Bloomington, Elaine was raised in relative poverty on the near east side of Indianapolis. As a child Elaine experienced situational homelessness on two occasions. She feels her relatable experiences are an asset to New Hope residents. Elaine believes that cultivating lifelong learners, promoting respect, maintaining dignity, and encouraging independent decision-making skills are key elements to overcoming homelessness. Elaine is outgoing with a positive outlook and a mission of planting seeds of learning wherever she may go.
As a child I didn’t know we were “homeless,” only that we pulled together to do what we could to “get by.” I didn’t feel sorry for myself, not by any means. In my mind I was just a regular kid with an ordinary life. We just happened to live in a camper during one short period of time.
As an adult I have come to understand that “homelessness” is a label attached to an experience. A label has nothing to do with how an experience feels: good or bad. Life is what we make of it.
I personally feel children who are experiencing “homelessness” want to go through daily life as usual; birthdays happen, friends are made, and meals are eaten. Children can be so resilient. Especially with supportive adults acting as a guide through the experiences life may bring.
As the Executive Director of New Hope I believe it is important to support the whole family through their experience. Each family faces unique challenges on their road to stable housing. It is transition that I believe can be viewed as a life shift that can lead us in a positive or negative direction.
As director I attempt to guide residents to resources available. It is up to the individual to utilize them. By creating transition plans, setting goals, and sometimes stopping along the way to challenge a young resident to a game of Uno, I try to act as a bridge during a transition.
At New Hope we are careful not to use the word “homeless,” it is, after all, an experience. It doesn't have to shape who we have yet to become.
Leon Gordon serves as Assistant Director at New Hope for Families. Leon is primary case manager, working one-on-one with families to secure housing and other vital social services. He meets weekly with clients to help them develop and manage individual transition plans that enable their families to work toward stable housing. This includes, but is not limited to, assisting with: employment search, transportation needs, communicating and coordinating with other local social agencies to serve families. In addition, Leon helps manage daily shelter operations including oversight and upkeep of shelter space. Other duties Leon is committed to include: facilitating, improving and developing programming available for families during their stay (e.g., parental support, financial planning, time/goal management, etc.) Leon is completing his PhD in the Learning Sciences at Indiana University (expected Fall 2017) (Education: MA: Learning Sciences, Northwestern University; Secondary Ed. Teaching Certificate (English Language Arts), National-Louis University; B.A.: English Language & Literature (Pre-Med), The University of Chicago.
Douglas Western is a passionate humanitarian with a commitment to advancing our corporate quality of life through the development of excellence in interpersonal communication. He has worked with people experiencing homelessness since 2009, helping them rebuild their lives and establish sustainable sources of income and permanent housing. Douglas brings a unique insight into the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness having experienced these challenges first hand.
After struggling with anxiety and depression, Douglas eventually found himself homeless and alienated from his family. Having no place to live and no support system, he entered a Gospel Rescue Mission. It was at this shelter that he found compassionate individuals who aided in his reconciliation with God. Upon the renewing of his Christian faith, Douglas began overcoming the obstacles that had plagued his former life, selfishness, insecurity, and depression. This journey was marked with the restoration of his familial relationships and, with the encouragement of others who saw in him gifts and abilities he did not recognize on his own, he embarked on a life focused on service to others, especially those considered to be “the least of us.”
Formerly homeless and alone, now a proud husband, new father, and homeowner, Douglas joined New Hope Family Shelter, Inc. in May 2016 as a site supervisor after graduating from Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, where he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Liberty University. He is skilled in program management with experience in non-profit administration, sales and customer service, and human resources management and staffing.