Impact Profile

Impact Profiles, is a series celebrating our community. We’re talking to non-profit founders, directors, and donors alike about what they care about most and their unique missions. 

We sat down with Cathy Sharp, the Director of Development and Communications at Care for the Homeless to talk about the future of this incredible organization.

What is Care for the Homeless? 

The mission of Care For the Homeless is to fight homelessness by delivering high-quality and client-centered health care, human services and shelter to homeless individuals and families, and by advocating for policies to ameliorate, prevent and end homelessness.

We accomplish our mission through the following:

  • A network of health care delivery sites, including licensed health centers co-located with other non-profit partners, and our newest model of stand-alone, community-based health centers.
  • Two transitional shelters for women experiencing homelessness.
  • Actively promoting a policy agenda to address the barriers to high-quality health care for homeless persons, the inequities in health care, and the critical need for more affordable and adequate housing.
A child enjoys a Health Fair event thrown by Care for the Homeless.

What was one of the most meaningful moments for CftH in the past 18 months?

There have been several! We are in the midst of implementing an exciting strategic plan that is expanding the number of health care delivery sites and services that will help more homeless New Yorkers than before.  Our health centers were again recognized as providing the highest quality health care by an independent, 3rd party entity: the National Commission on Quality Assurance, the Level 3 designation, the highest awarded.

We received 2 grant awards totaling $7.5 million, to renovate and upgrade current health centers and to build 3 new community-based health centers. And, CFH is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity, meeting all 20 of the BBB’s standards for charitable accountability. 

At CFH, we believe that homelessness is not a characteristic, it is a condition, and conditions can be treated.

Cathy Sharp, Care for the Homeless

We believe giving is a lifestyle. What does giving back mean to you personally? 

I grew up in a family where volunteering and helping others was a part of our lives, working with community organizations, our church or taking leadership roles in organizations. Over two years ago, I revived the mentoring program at the NYC chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, to ensure those new to the profession can grow and advance in the fundraising field.

My personal and professional “tagline” is “a career dedicated to helping others” because I’ve known since college that I would work in the nonprofit sector to give back and help those with less.  

What inspires you/Who’s someone whose work you really admire? 

I most admire and were influenced by my mother and father who were constantly active in the communities where we lived, volunteering and joining where needed, and who made life and career choices to ensure that all 5 of us kids could pursue our interests and passions, with the solid base of a quality education. 

Cathy Sharp, on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon.

How do you keep your team and your donors motivated? 

We strive to keep our donors informed about our work and motivated by letting them know how their support has a measurable impact on the individuals we serve. Many people believe that homelessness isn’t solvable, but it IS!

CFH can end homelessness for individuals by making health care accessible and providing the quality of care that each of us receives and deserves, and this can and does help them on the path toward health and housing stability. 

Looking Forward: What’s the next phase of involvement and growth for Care for the Homeless? 

We are already seeing great progress in the implementation of our strategic plan that will, over the next 5 years, allow us to make the highest-quality health care accessible to more individuals and families experiencing homelessness and delivered with sensitivity and respect. Our new community-based health center model will provide more services and more days/hours of operation, increasing the availability of health care to homeless and unstably housed individuals. At CFH, we believe that homelessness is not a characteristic, it is a condition, and conditions can be treated. We also believe that those we serve are people first, not patients, and they deserve the best, delivered by the best and most caring staff anywhere!

It’s now easier than ever to support great orgs like Care for the Homeless with our desktop giving feature:

Click here to support Care for the Homeless! #LetsDonorUP

Want to learn more? Stay in touch with Care for the Homeless on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And be sure to check out our other Impact Profiles to connect with more members of this community of givers!

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Last week’s panel on innovation and action to change prevailing issues around food equity and access.

FEAST founder Sam Polk introduces panelists at Accenture.

We were blown away by the stories of panelists Dana Rizer (FEAST), Gabby Rodriguez (HarlemGrown), Alex Godin (Lemontree), Angela Chiappara (Brooklyn Community Services), and Mohamed Attia (Street Vendor Project). 

What stood out most to us is that whether you’re discussing food affordability, education, advocacy, or accessibility, everyone can connect to a food story.

These panelists shared personal anecdotes regarding the importance of family dinners; talents as burgeoning chefs; living in food deserts; and the rights of street vendors. And we feel confident saying that every guest of the event felt empowered with the tools to take a step towards change.

We’re proud to support this event and encourage you to explore the missions of these amazing organizations. What’s more, every organization from the evening’s panel is listed on DonorUP! If the Fair Food Fight is important to you, consider making a donation through the app.

As always, 100% of your donation will go to the nonprofit, and you’ll be eligible for rewards and events from us!

And a special thanks to Accenture SoHo Innovation Studio and Taylor Durland for moderating such an engaging panel. You can read more about Taylor in his recent Impact Profile!

Let’s DonorUP!
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INFORMATION

Take a moment to reflect on where you grew up, went to school, how you spend your free time. This all informs where you give and why you feel connected to your causes. Welcome to Impact Profiles, our new series that’s all about our community, about you. We’re talking to non-profit founders, executive directors, and donors alike about what they care about most and their unique missions.

I recently spoke to Katie Campos, Executive Director of Teach for America Buffalo. In our conversation, we covered her professional history, personal motivations, and unique philanthropic identity. And through it all, she placed an undeniable emphasis on access to and empowering people with information.

“One of my values is a big belief in people’s capacity.”

It came as no surprise, then, to discover that since she was a child, Campos was interested in the news. From a young age, she’d seek out the newspaper, and spot contradictions– why are they saying one thing but doing something else? She had access to information, and it empowered her. Now as an adult, Campos’ philanthropic identity directs her towards education and informing communities. “One of my values is a big belief in people’s capacity,” says Campos.

ORGANIZATION

Before TFA, Campos worked with DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) and later moved home to Buffalo, NY. She used the word “outraged” several times to describe how she felt about the school system and how difficult it was to find information about NY public schools. She wanted to put together why so many classrooms didn’t have grade-appropriate books, why students were graduating wholly unprepared for their grade-level, why the schools were effectively failing. And why more people weren’t talking about it.

She began organizing parents and students to learn about their rights and understand what policies could better serve their schools. Before this movement gained momentum and transformed into the nonprofit organization Buffalo ReformED, Campos would wait outside schools, churches, and talk to parents one-on-one about their experiences.  

“Cultivating people [like parents], helps them to appreciate their full potential.” Campos believes that you can steward a community to what they perceive as a challenge and through information, empower them with tools to alleviate it. The ingredients for success here are strong leadership and the principle of “power in numbers.”

After ReformED, Campos served in Governor Andrew M Cuomo’s office as the Assistant Secretary for Education. But Buffalo called her back. She cites “proximity” as the driving force in returning to the city. “The further you get removed, the harder it is to find out what’s going on on the ground level.”

MOTIVATION

As a leader, Campos adopts these two truths to keep people involved over time: “education is far from where it needs to be, and every time there’s a bright spot, celebrate it.”

There’s a lot of work to do. What gets tricky is the “revolving door” of parents and students, as she put it, cycling through the schools. Because in the years a student is enrolled, they might not see the sweeping changes they dream of, but they can absolutely make progress.

They know and “feel like they’re part of making history.”

I asked her how we can motivate people to advocate for change when they might not see immediate results. “As far as the ‘here’s what I can do today, tomorrow, next week,’ the short answer is… stay informed. Give [people] a number of different news sources. Understand what kinds of questions they can ask their kids about how things are going at school.”

This applies to teachers as well. To reduce the risk of burnout, TFA Buffalo Corps members connect with kernels of goodness and those aforementioned “bright spots” that can be expanded upon. Campos knows that change takes time, but she’s seen first hand the impact this kind of coaching can have on a community and now the TFA Corps members. They know and “feel like they’re part of making history.”

LOOKING FORWARD

“Every recurring donation, no matter the amount, gives us a boon of confidence…We hold every donor in the same regard.”

So what’s the next phase of involvement and growth? The next generation.

Campos admires the motivation of Millennials and Gen Z-ers. “They have come to expect information at their fingertips. They do their own research. They expect answers and clarity about what they’re involved in.” And she’s optimistic about the impact this age group can have. As Campos expressed, feeling entitled to answers is a good kind of entitlement. As we age, we see how hard it is to push against a system for so long, to see how long it takes to see change, and eventually, we no longer feel entitled to information.

There’s that word again: information. “We need to ensure that the world is changing to meet the needs of this age group. They’re making informed choices.” And transparency plays a critical role. When concrete answers are missing, Campos believes that “‘I don’t know’ is a fine answer as long as it’s transparent.” We can learn together. And it starts locally.

You can start with yourself. Your community. Your city. As Campos learned, proximity does matter. And it’s the people in a community who can change that community for themselves.

“A recurring donation means that your vision aligns with our vision.”

TFA Buffalo offers personalized support for their corps members, building a network of leaders committed to their unique missions and community goals. The website for TFA Buffalo boasts that “in addition to continuing their work as teachers, alumni in our region also have become principals and district leaders, joined local nonprofits, and founded charter schools—all moving to redefine what it means to get an excellent education in our city.” That sounds like Campos’ leadership in action.

Of course, it’s also the wider community that matters. Far beyond the city limits of Buffalo is a community of givers with philanthropic identities that connect them to this city and this mission. So whether near or far from Buffalo, Campos says, “every recurring donation, no matter the amount, gives us a boon of confidence…We hold every donor in the same regard.”

It goes back to the idea of power in numbers. For TFA Buffalo, each donation indicates an interest in the work TFA is doing. “A recurring donation means that your vision aligns with our vision.” And she assures that they keep the community informed about where the money goes. And if you have questions about TFA Buffalo? Ask! The thirst for knowledge and informed decision-making is at the foundation of Campos’ work. This kind of transparency, empowerment, and growth-mindset helps build the habit of giving and an informed community. And that’s the future of change-making.

#LetsDonorUP  @TFABuffalo

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