Did you know that Interfaith Community PADS got a new board President in December 2021? Her name is Jessica Hoffmaster, and she has been a dedicated board member and volunteer for three years.
We’d love for you to get to meet her, so recently we spoke to Jessica about her experiences with the ICPADS organization and her plans now that she is President. Check out her answers below.
How long have you been involved in Interfaith Community PADS? What made you want to get involved?
I’ve been involved with PADS for three years. I recall seeing posts on social media when it was being formed as a formal nonprofit, and was drawn to it. However, like many of us, I was preoccupied with other community organizations for a couple of years. My friend, Kristen Noonan, knew that I had recently completed Leadership LaPorte County and was looking for a board to join to make more of an impact. She reached out to me with the suggestion of joining the PADS board, and I am grateful that she did. I feel that The Lord put this back on my radar because he wants me involved with this organization. I lived in a shelter twice when I was a child, and I understand how it feels to be in a less fortunate situation.
In what capacities have you served ICPADS in the past?
I have helped by volunteering for shifts, assisting the director and the other team members as we prepared to move into our permanent location, and raising awareness in the community. Many people are unaware that there IS a shelter that serves men and women year round in Michigan City, and that our needs for support, including time, goods, and service, are ongoing.
How has ICPADS changed since you have been involved?
A major change is our location. We are no longer on a rotating church schedule. For a number of years, churches graciously donated their space and encouraged parishioners to volunteer with our program, and we are grateful for their support. That support, as well as help from many others, has allowed us to move to a permanent site. This provides stability, which many of our guests desperately need, even if it’s only for an evening.
Additionally, we were able to hire our amazing and selfless executive director, Harrison Holtkamp, as our first full time employee. Harrison donated countless hours to the community, running the shelter as a volunteer, while having a fulltime job and a family, for many years. The commitment to PADS by the community has given him the flexibility to be the primary presence for our guests and community partners. This adds another layer of stability and trust, and is truly the foundation for what we are able to accomplish.
When did you become President of the Board? What made you want to be President?
I became president in December 2021. I had acted as vice-president for the preceding year, studying both Ed Merrion and Kristen Noonan and previous presidents. They carried us through our capital campaign, remodel of Sacred Heart, and oversaw both fundraising and operations, two critical components of our success. I have learned a great deal from both of them about stewardship in our community. I especially appreciate them both being active volunteers on a weekly basis at the shelter.
Now that you are President, what is your vision for the ICPADS organization?
My vision for the organization is continued multifaceted support for our guests. While we have several partner organizations that help us to provide wrap-around services to meet the needs of our guests, there is always more that can be done to help others help themselves. I would like to see stable, ongoing staffing in our facility, increased engagement with guests overcoming barriers, and an increased community presence; both us IN the community, and the community inside our building.
Is there any area(s) you want to specifically focus on during 2022?
For 2022, I want to focus on building community engagement within our shelter. We frequently have donations of goods, which are a blessing, but I would love to see the relationship grow deeper. The gift of time is unparalleled. When we were using the church sites, we had volunteers who took pride in preparing food and sharing a meal with our guests. That formula has changed, due in large part to Covid, but I encourage anyone who is interested to pray and reflect on how they can become more engaged with our guests. These people are our friends, neighbors, and community members. Homelessness is often not what people imagine, and it’s refreshing and uplifting to see our volunteers and staff engage and inspire our guests, reminding them that they CAN move through this phase of their lives.
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:2)
What specific goals are you hoping to achieve this year?
We are working diligently on fundraising this year, in hopes of continuing to provide adequate shelter for our guests. I would love to work with our individual community members, not only grantors, to ensure that we are available for as many years as we are needed. When we were working on our capital campaign, the individual donors of our community were so incredibly generous; it felt as though they saw our vision and truly believed in our work. Sustainable monthly donations, even small amounts, can be the blessing that allows us to continue to serve our community.
Additionally, I would like to expand our community footprint to the rest of the county. We are a county-wide shelter, and while Michigan City’s churches and residents have primarily supported us, I am excited to offer the opportunity to share our mission with more churches and communities throughout LaPorte County. Our executive director has been leading the way on that, and we are creating some amazing partnerships.
Additionally, on the operations side, Mr. Holtkamp has been doing fantastic work with some previous guests, mentoring them and having them return to shelter as success stories and share their talents and wisdom. I would like to see that continue, as well as have other community members share stories with our guests. Shared knowledge helps people feel as though they are part of a community that cares. Right now, that is critical to the overall well being of people as a whole.
So, what’s next?
We are working on our next fundraising event, Be the Shelter’s Valentine, and are looking into the future of continuing to improve our building to meet the needs of our mission. Upkeep in an old church is daunting, as well as costly, but we are putting out faith in The Lord to continue to open the hearts of our community members and businesses that want to help us help our brothers and sisters.