Any facility needs each staff member to their part to have a good outcome. Good outcomes are gotten through planning and supervision. Stan the Operations Director sees it’s time to bring the cleaning staff under his control so that the shelter gets ship shape–inside and out.
Stan is the Operations Director who also works the 4:00 – 12 midnight shift, Monday through Friday. Years ago, he worked in the business sector and he made it up to the six-figure stratosphere. For reasons untold, he found his way over to the nonprofit sector–human services–to work at the shelter.
Stan is another person–like Flo Davis and Juliet–who has been at the shelter for several years. He started as a Case Manager, got promoted to a Shift Supervisor, and now sits as the Operations Director. Many an evening when things are quiet, Stan sits with Juliet in the Social Services Department for a moment to talk and enjoy the shelter at peace.
To keep him in the lifestyle to which he’s accustomed, Stan’s side gig is real estate. He has properties in Brooklyn and one in Queens. His side gig often times is another full time job. He has no complaint. “That’s cake” for him and his wife of 26 years. It’s a beautiful thing to observe him proudly introduce her to people at company events. He’s willing to offer his insights on feeding Black love.
Helen does not hide her frustration about her boss’s habitual tardiness to work. He relieves her. Helen can’t leave until Stan is on premises. After four months of biting her tongue, she stated in her direct but not cutting style that he had to arrive on time so that she gets home–after all she is a mother with a grade school age daughter.
“Yes, Helen. I hear you. I’m guilty and I’ll get here early.”
So, for a week or so he arrives very close to 4:00 PM. But then…he slips back to arriving closer to 5 o’clock and Helen calls him out on it, eventually.
At 5 o’clock, arriving early or coming late, Stan sits down for his meal break. He is adamant about not being disturbed by clients unless it is an emergency. The picture being painted of Stan–when a body stands back–is a watchful, effective, and compassionate one. As Stan nears the front of the building he is studying the men outside; and looking at the cleanliness of the sidewalk. Walking up the stairs to the gate, he is looking at the new faces sitting in the chairs or the intoxicated usuals. He is open to listening to a gripe or request before he gets in his office. Stan put in a good word for Helen to be promoted to a Shift Supervisor because he sees some of himself in her conscientiousness.
He spends his time doing the rounds and noting them in the log book, doing bed count at 10:00 PM, admitting men into the shelter, assigning men to beds, making transfers to other shelters, completing, the one-day ILP, and helping Case Managers connect with clients on their case loads.
Being somewhat of a softie, he gives new staff time to arrange their lives. More time than many–definitely in the business world–would do. Joy has witnessed Stan, on a Tuesday or Friday evening, leave the office to work in the kitchen. Yes, in his casual business attire of dark trousers, collared polo shirt or buttoned down dress shirt and loafers, Stan dons a plastic apron & gloves to heat and serve 200 hungry men. Of course, “time to arrange their lives” has its limit. If things don’t come together, that person is told not to return. Similar to Juliet directing Social Services, Stan finds people to fill vacancies with little difficulty.
Right now, Stan supervises the four Shift Supervisors and two Kitchen Staff. He has monthly meetings with the Shift Supervisors whether face-to-face or teleconference. He’s unforgiving of those who miss the teleconference. Something about not having a landline or cellphone to make that meeting is a tipping point for him.
“Here I am giving people the option of calling into the meeting rather than come to work on your day off and you throw that cake away? Ridiculous.”
The Custodians are in his “scope”. He watches how they have excuses for not picking up trash on sidewalks on the sides of the building. He winces at the excuses for sinks staying clogged one too many hours.
“When Big Cheez finally agrees to give over the supervision of the Custodians to me, that’s a wrap for the excuses. If each staff member does his part, this place will be in fine condition. Yeah, do your part then, go home knowing you did something good.”
Another one of his duties is running the weekly resident meetings on Wednesdays, 7:00 PM. During these meetings he goes over house rules, points out infractions, and gives the repercussions. Flo Davis comes into the meetings to announce who is moving. She says the move-out date and presents the keys to the men. The men or man is encouraged to talk a moment about what it is to finally “get his own keys.” One Wednesday, Joy stays late to take part in the meeting. Flo Davis announces the resident’s name. A tall, heavy set Latino wearing a blue short sleeve service uniform stands and walks to the front near Ms. Davis to accept his keys. The man is visibly pleased and has an aura of calm and self-satisfaction.
“Ms. Davis, I’m so happy to see this day. When I first came here, I was in a bad way but little by little, I picked up the pieces of my life. I just want to say if I can do it–many of you know where I was–you can do it too!“
Getting Your Own Keys chronicles the professional odyssey of Joy Duggins, a resourceful and encouraging service provider in a Central Brooklyn men’s homeless shelter. It gives a peek into NYC homeless services procedures and much workplace drama. http://gettingyourownkeys.blogspot.com/