Tell us about yourself.
My name is Tiffany Hall Terry and I am the Director of Community Engagement at CARITAS. CARITAS is Richmond’s largest homeless services provider in Central Virginia. I have had the pleasure of working in volunteer coordination/community engagement for 10 years, 2 of those have been spent with CARITAS. I have a passion for uniting people across communities around a common purpose, and what better purpose than to help those living in crisis move to stability! It never ceases to amaze me as to how our volunteers and community partners join us as we seek to live out our culture of being servant leaders, committed to our values and our community in order to change lives.
What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?
CARITAS has four programs—The Emergency Shelter, CARITAS Works, The Furniture Bank, and The Healing Place—that help our most vulnerable neighbors break the cycles of homelessness and addiction and reclaim their dignity. From connecting families to resources while they are in the shelter, to getting them furniture for their new homes, to helping someone’s son fight his addiction–our goal is to provide hope for everyone who needs it.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I get to work with our nearly 18,000 volunteers and community partners around the community. I love bringing people who care to our cause. There are so many ways to make a positive impact. Volunteers provide healing, shelter, furniture, and jobs to our neighbors in need. CARITAS turns every hour of your volunteer service into $12 in support for CARITAS programs!
What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?
Our greatest challenge is in educating our community on who we are and what we do. For 28 years we have been known as an emergency shelter, but we have three other programs. We often get offers to have people help us feed those who we serve, but that’s not our greatest need. We’ve worked very hard to use our website and our social media outlets to share what our actual needs are in order to serve our clients well. In fact, we are redoing our website in hopes of better communicating with the community about our mission and needs. We also have been trying to get out to our partnerships and share with them about our programs and what we are doing.
What’s coming next for you and/or for your organization that really excites you?
We recently opened our new Works classroom to welcome larger class sizes. The program provides job training and life skills to men with significant barriers to employment. We are also working to expand our reach at The Healing Place in order to both educate the community and to better meet the needs of the growing heroin epidemic. We also have an enterprise called The Gathered Goods Marketplace, where we sell non-essential items or very large items that do not go to our clients. Please check out our website to take part in the auction and find great items!
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
We find the trainings really valuable. Our Marketing and Communications Manager recently attended the Social Media for Nonprofits conference and it was perfect timing as we dig into launching a new website. We also post job openings.
Anything else you would like to share?
CARITAS has just been certified as a Service Enterprise by Points of Light. With this certification, CARITAS joins a prestigious group of nonprofits committed to effectively delivering on our mission by strategically engaging volunteer time and talent. Less than 15% of organizations nationwide can be characterized as Service Enterprises!