Monthly Archives: December 2008

Medical Help for the Homeless

By Dr. Chad Audi

What happens when you’re homeless and need medical attention? In most cases, the uninsured and underinsured do not receive the medical treatment they deserve, just like anyone else.

Well, we’re doing something about that here in Detroit. The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) has partnered with S.A.Y. Detroit (Super All Year Detroit) — a non-profit charity founded by best-selling author Mitch Albom to help improve the lives of Detroit’s homeless — to open a free medical clinic solely for homeless children and their mothers. It’s the first of its kind in the area. At the grand opening, children were given free flu shots and their mothers received diabetes screening and blood pressure testing.

The Children & Women’s Clinic was created and funded through the generosity of local residents and businesses. It is open 24/7, 365 days a year and is staffed with nurse practitioners and on-call physicians, including a pediatrics specialist, OB/GYN, and nutritionist.

More than 550,000 people in the Detroit area alone have no health insurance. Almost 100,000 of them are children ages 10 and under. Imagine what the total number is across the country! It’s mind-boggling to think about all the people who are not having their basic medical needs met. And it’s even more disturbing to think about the children who are not receiving immunizations or having minor health issues taken care of before they intensify.

The homeless are entitled to medical check-ups, inoculations, examinations — basics that we take for granted. After all, we’re talking about saving thousands of lives.

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Keeping Dignity Intact

By Dr. Chad Audi

I firmly believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their social and economic status or circumstances. Unfortunately, too often, the nation’s homeless do not receive equal treatment. They face discrimination and receive scornful stares. Many times, they’re treated like second-class citizens.

This only helps to increase feelings of isolation and hopelessness among the homeless. At the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we look at all individuals as human beings, regardless of their backgrounds or life’s choices. Our number one goal is to preserve their dignity and respect. Secondly, we let them know that there is someone who loves them unconditionally and will care for them: God. And third, we treat their immediate needs and then delve down below the surface to address their deeper needs, whether it’s physical, spiritual or mental. Otherwise, it’s likely their issues — hunger, addiction, homelessness, poverty — will return in the future.

The homeless and disadvantaged need compassion, not disdain. They need a helping hand, not just a hand out. DRMM extends a helping hand to all who need our services. Life on the streets is very tough. The homeless need access to all of the things that you and I take for granted. For example: a hot shower, a hearty meal, warm shelter and career/academic opportunities. We provide for those who cannot, at this time, provide for themselves. If it were you on the streets, wouldn’t you welcome the help and the kindness of strangers? Think about that the next time you see someone living on the street.

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Help Wanted: Managers with a Business Mind & Servant Heart

By Dr. Chad Audi

We need to talk. The responsibilities of managers of non-profits have changed drastically. In earlier generations, the typical non-profit manager was judged by and guided in daily decisions by the kindness of his or her heart. Today, that is still a baseline requirement. However, in addition, the non-profit manager must be able to comply with laws, maintain fundamental accountability for all resources entrusted to the agency, and recognize that non-profits are part of the engine of social order. The non-profit leader needs to be equipped and skilled to manage staff, reduce costs, manage their human resources, increase production, lead in times of financial crisis, and be very effective in fundraising and public education efforts.

Consider the demands of laws, rules and regulations. As a faith-based non-profit, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) is sometimes criticized for accepting government funds under the mistaken belief that we must be compromising our faith to get government dollars. People miss the concept that — like it or not — whether you run a religious organization, social service or community organization, or a foundation, government plays a role in your funding and operations. Whether you take government money or not, they are still in your business if for no other reason than that the government gives your donors tax breaks when they donate to you as a tax deductible organization. Whether bound by the rules that govern non-profit organizations or simply because the donor trusts the non-profit to provide quality services to the public, the non-profit should always excel in obeying rules and regulations and meeting the highest standards of the industry. It’s an ethical obligation.

The non-profit world is now operating in times of a very stressed economy. Not only are they providers of services needed by increasing numbers of people, but they also employ people who perhaps would not have otherwise considered non-profit work. It once surprised people to see a smart, young professional leading a non-profit. The perception was, “That’s the kind of work you do when you are ready to give something back, during your retirement years.” That thinking guaranteed a non-profit organization the benefit of skilled leadership at a lower cost, because the salary paid to the seasoned manager was supplemented by the manager’s Social Security and other retirement income.

There is always a need for seasoned managers who want to give back, support and surround the paid non-profit manager as a mentor, Board member, participant in a strategic planning effort, or to help bring resources to the non-profit. At the same time, we should not be troubled to see younger professionals leading the non-profits.

The question is not whether to hire a non-profit manager who believes in the cause as opposed to hiring a good manager. It is whether the non-profit management candidate really loves and believes in the cause and brings the needed skills and knowledge to what they do. With fewer resources and more competition for those resources, the highly qualified manager who can manage under stress and in complex situations, who is experienced in sound management practices, and who can master taxation and accountability rules, is in higher demand than ever before. We need managers who have a business mind and a servant heart.

The best reward of leading a non-profit is the experience of giving back, improving the organization you love, believing in your cause, and being able and willing to acquire and increase the knowledge needed to do the work. The very best is to welcome the competition and possess a strong desire to match and model the skill levels used in the for-profit world. When we gain that mind-set, we poise the non-profit community to give its very best services to clients without fear of tomorrow.

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