New executive director and new board chair are focusing on finances and improving policies

JASON CHANEY - Redemption House Ministries is moving forward with a new executive director and board chair as they work to keep shelters open and improve faith-based homeless mission.

As new leaders settle into their roles with Redemption House Ministries, they are looking at ways to move the local homeless ministry nonprofit forward successfully.

When KayCee Weeks ascended from a board position with the nonprofit to fill the executive director role in mid-December, she said the primary goals revolved around funding and organizational policies.

"The No. 1 goal as an organization that we are focusing on right now is the financial aspect," she said in December. "I think that has been an ongoing struggle in the past, being mostly volunteer-run. We don't have a development officer, somebody who is out there seeking the funding that is available."

In addition, Weeks hoped to work on defining the type of organization that Redemption House wants to be in Crook County. She wanted to establish some hard policies and procedures while reaching out to the public for their input in the process.

This change in leadership became necessary when founder and executive director Greg Sanders died unexpectedly this past October. About a month and a half after Weeks took over as executive director, Jerry Bishop was named board chair, a position previously held by Michael Wilson, who will remain a board member.

Like Weeks, he said the main goals within the next three months will be putting some comprehensive and robust policies and procedures in place.

"What we have now are not as thorough as we want," Bishop said, "so we need to get those completed and then improve the stability of our funding." That funding is critical to the faith-based, homeless-serving objectives that Redemption House Ministries leaders hold dear. Without funding, the organization will not have enough staff to keep its services going.

"Running the men's shelter and the women's shelter as well as Craig's Compassionate Café is really what we do," Bishop said, "and I think that we demonstrate our faith through activities meant to help the disadvantaged."

With the men's 16-bed emergency shelter almost always full and the women's shelter full much of the time, organization leaders are continually focusing on staffing.

"We are chronically short of adequate staffing," Bishop said.

The new board president said that Weeks has done a good job helping Redemption House Ministries meet its near-term funding, staffing and policy goals. She has also done a good job of filling some big shoes.

"A person who starts an organization and is that much a part of it kind of feels indispensable," Bishop said of Sanders. "An organization has to be prepared to live beyond the time that its founder is present. That is what we were faced with when Greg passed away so suddenly … KayCee is really doing a yeoman's task of continuing to live her life and keep her day job while finding enough time to move us forward with more stable funding and a new budget for 2020 commensurate with new funding."

While focusing on organizational goals, Redemption House leaders have continued to meet with different community partners, keeping open lines of communication with BestCare Treatment Services, law enforcement and other agencies.

"That's a goal," Bishop said.

And as they focus on short-term goals, Bishop and other Redemption House leaders are looking toward the future and identifying long-term goals that will help them further their mission of helping the disadvantaged in the community.

"Eventually at some point, we would like to be able to create a warming shelter to help people who are unsheltered during the coldest months," Bishop said. "I don't think any of us think that is going to happen this winter, but by the time it turns cold again next winter, I am optimistic we could have something in place."

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