Participants and volunteers at the Hospitality Center will see a new face every day now that Jackie Smith Adams has accepted the title of Program Director.
Rev. Kevin Stewart has been running the program with a small army of volunteers for the past four years. Bringing Adams on-board means continuity of care for participants and consistency for volunteers.
“Jackie has energy and compassion,” he said. “But we do need some procedures here like checklists for opening and closing and some volunteer training, too. We need some depth, and Jackie can help with that.”
Adams has years of experience working with non-profit organizations, so she knows the work ahead of her, Stewart added.
He made the announcement on the Hospitality Center’s Facebook page.
“Jackie brings a wealth of expertise and experience, including serving as part of the leadership team of Milwaukee’s largest meal program. We are fortunate to have Jackie join Racine’s largest meal program to provide leadership for the day to day operations of the Hospitality Center,” the post reads in part.
Stewart and Adams have known each other for about 15 years after they met when they were both volunteers for a community meal program at a church Stewart attended. They’ve kept in touch through the years, and Adams said she follows the Center on Facebook. She and Stewart reconnected earlier this year when Stewart thought he would have to end the Hospitality Center’s overnight emergency shelter during some of the worst weather of the winter.
“I got in touch with him and our conversation lead to talk about an opportunity about a staff person here,” she said.
Adams’ first day was Tuesday, and she said it was “wonderful.”
“I love working with (the homeless) population because there is a strength in these folks, and as you get to know them you realize they have a joy in life that we don’t see because we’re so caught up in the material trappings,” she said.
Adams also commented about the joy of working with the Hospitality Center’s dedicated group of volunteers.
“You can’t feel bad about the world entirely when you are surrounded by volunteers,” she added. “I love working with volunteers drawn to doing the same thing.”
Adams will technically be an employee of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, but her duties will exclusively pertain to the day and hot meal programs at the Center.
Stewart said the money to fund Adams’ position is provided by an anonymous donor and covers about 70 percent of her salary. The rest will come from donations, contributions and supporters of the Hospitality Center, he added.
“Jackie gets the mission, and we are breathing a sigh of relief that she’s on board,” he said. “She will do everything in her power to ensure success for volunteers and participants.”
Adams wants the greater Racine know that her role is to bring sustainability to the program Stewart built with his group of volunteers.
“Kevin built something amazing with a committed group of volunteers, so my job is to make the program sustainable,” she said. “I hope people will come talk to us so they know we aren’t a threat to anyone. Everyone is better off when people have a safe place to go, and why wouldn’t we want that for everyone?”