Ge­n­e­sis House cel­e­brates new be­gin­nings

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - HUNTER MCFERRIN hm­c­fer­[email protected]

SILOAM SPRINGS — The Ge­n­e­sis House of Siloam Springs re­cently an­nounced that Tim Rogers would take over as the new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, ef­fec­tive Jan. 1.

The va­cancy emerged for the non­profit, whose mis­sion is to pro­vide aid to the home­less and low­in­come pop­u­la­tions in the com­mu­nity, when the for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Har­vey McCone, an­nounced his plans to re­tire last year. McCone has held the po­si­tion for the last three and a half years and will remain in­volved mov­ing for­ward be­cause he was se­lected to serve as pres­i­dent of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s board of direc­tors.

Five new mem­bers will also be join­ing the board for 2019: Tam­era Holmes, James Walls, Rex Dickey, James Har­ris and Caleb Schultz. The new direc­tors are from di­verse back­grounds, from Schultz, a teacher at Siloam Springs Mid­dle School, to Rex Dickey, a chap­lain at Cobb Vantress. This is sim­i­lar to the board’s cur­rent mem­bers, who have back­grounds work­ing for places such as Mc­Kee Foods, Main Street Academy, Sim­mons or DaySpring.

McCone is also a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors for the Siloam Springs Cham­ber of Com­merce, and his move from the staff side to the board stemmed from a de­sire to stay in­volved but to a lesser ex­tent so that he can have more time to spend with his fam­ily and en­joy re­tire­ment. He will of­fi­cially be­gin in April and will be re­plac­ing Christina Drake, who has served as board pres­i­dent for two three-year terms.

Drake will still remain on the board as a di­rec­tor, how­ever, and said that she didn’t step down for any par­tic­u­lar rea­son other than to al­low oth­ers an op­por­tu­nity to bring in new per­spec­tives and ideas. She em­pha­sized the progress that has taken place un­der McCone’s lead­er­ship in re­cent years.

“I’ve been on the board for five years and have seen where we’ve grown just in the last three and a half years since Har­vey came on board,” Drake said. “He came in with so much mo­men­tum, it was re­ally ex­cit­ing to see. He had all these charts and graphs and looked at where our gaps were (and) the ar­eas that we could grow.

“Our bud­get at that time was about half of what it is now; he’s dou­bled al­most ev­ery pro­gram to twice the ca­pac­ity of what they orig­i­nally were. We’re at max ca­pac­ity with a lot of pro­grams that we’re run­ning, so I mean he re­ally took every­thing to the next level, and what I see for Tim (Rogers) is keep­ing those things go­ing and then im­ple­ment­ing things that can re­fine them and make them run even smoother.”

Since he be­gan in May 2015, McCone has over­seen a num­ber of im­prove­ments for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, such as the ef­fort to se­cure fund­ing for the Tiny House Project, a tran­si­tional hous­ing pro­gram which will of­fer emer­gency shel­ter to se­lected ap­pli­cants. The project’s com­ple­tion is ex­pected some­time in the early months of 2019 and is lo­cated on the cor­ner of Arkansas High­way 16 and Ken­wood Street.

Other new pro­gram ini­tia­tives are fo­cused on of­fer­ing ad­di­tional op­tions for tran­si­tional hous­ing, food banks, van trans­porta­tion as­sis­tance, spe­cial out­reach pro­grams for the sum­mer and win­ter months, as well as home­less­ness preven­tion as­sis­tance and ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment pro­vided by the Ge­n­e­sis House. More­over, pro­gram fund­ing has in­creased con­sid­er­ably since McCone’s ar­rival.

An­nual fund­ing from the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment has in­creased from $26,000 to $92,000, and $460,000 has been raised through grants or other sources.

McCone be­came ac­quainted with Rogers dur­ing his time as a vol­un­teer and his time on the Ge­n­e­sis House board of direc­tors, on which he served prior to his con­sid­er­a­tion of the new po­si­tion. Af­ter his de­ci­sion to re­tire, McCone asked Rogers if he would con­sider ap­ply­ing for the po­si­tion. McCone said he knew Rogers’ heart is in the right place and that he would be leav­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion in steady hands.

Rogers grew up in Le­banon, Conn., and earned an as­so­ciate de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice be­fore en­list­ing in the U.S. Army, where he went on three over­seas de­ploy­ments and served for a to­tal of 20 years. For the first four years of his ser­vice, he was an in­fantry para­trooper and spent the re­main­der of his ser­vice in other ca­pac­i­ties, in­clud­ing the re­serves.

Af­ter the mil­i­tary, Rogers earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in so­ci­ol­ogy from the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas in Fayet­teville, where he lived for about 20 years be­fore com­ing to Siloam Springs in June 2014.

He is mar­ried with two sons, a daugh­ter, and twin grand­daugh­ters. He has worked in law en­force­ment, sales and has spent 12 years work­ing as a su­per­vi­sor for Delta Air­lines at the North­west Arkansas Re­gional Air­port.

The com­ing weeks will be a tran­si­tion pe­riod for Rogers, who, un­der McCone’s guid­ance, will be learn­ing more about the fi­nan­cial and busi­ness as­pects of the shel­ter. McCone will step down from the role com­pletely in March and be­gin on the board in April.

Rogers said that he’s al­ways had an in­ter­est in be­com­ing a coun­selor and that he still has hopes of earn­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree in so­cial work some­day. He at­trib­uted the rea­son for this prospect in part to his mother — who spent 20 years as a so­cial worker — and said that her ded­i­ca­tion to help­ing oth­ers has given him last­ing in­spi­ra­tion to do the same.

“My mom never made a lot of money, but she helped a lot of peo­ple in her 20 years, a ton of peo­ple,” Rogers said. “It’s an honor for me to do some­thing even sim­i­lar to what she did. She’s no longer with us but that was her heart, do­ing that. Even when she wasn’t a so­cial worker, she was al­ways help­ing peo­ple.”

Since he was al­ready in­volved with the or­ga­ni­za­tion, Rogers has got­ten to know the em­ploy­ees and the em­ploy­ees, him. He de­scribed them as a phe­nom­e­nal team of peo­ple that bring their own unique con­tri­bu­tions to the ta­ble, such as case­worker Lisa Burch, who he con­sid­ers “heart and soul” of the or­ga­ni­za­tion be­cause of the pa­tient, re­spect­ful and thought­ful de­meanor she prac­tices when in­ter­act­ing with clients.

Rogers also com­mended Scott Blaha for his ef­forts in keep­ing the shel­ter’s fi­nances or­ga­nized, and Mike Velo, who man­ages a con­sid­er­able amount of the day-to­day op­er­a­tions. If it were the Army, Velo would be re­ferred to as the group’s “hard-charg­ing NCO, or hard-charg­ing sergeant” be­cause of his abil­ity to get things done, Rogers said.

“So, yeah, the staff, the chem­istry there, is phe­nom­e­nal,” Rogers said. “For me, I see my­self as some­one who’s go­ing to be, num­ber one, their great­est cheer­leader. I’m go­ing to try to do every­thing I can to make their lives eas­ier for what they do be­cause there’s noth­ing on that staff that is bro­ken. I’m just re­ally proud to be among them and to know them.

“I also re­ally want to men­tion that we have a ro­bust team of vol­un­teers. They go over and above the hours that they’re sup­posed to be there and over and above the re­quired ef­fort to cre­ate ways to help. I can’t stress that enough.”

As for what’s next, Rogers said one pri­or­ity will be to find a bet­ter fund­ing source for many of the day-to-day ex­penses such as util­ity costs be­cause many of the larger projects — such as the tiny houses — can of­ten be quick to re­ceive fund­ing, while smaller, less no­tice­able ex­penses can some­times be more dif­fi­cult.

Other pri­or­i­ties in­clude ex­pand­ing the shel­ter’s re­stroom fa­cil­i­ties and find­ing a way to re­pair or re­place the two vans cur­rently in use, Rogers said. The ul­ti­mate goal is to open an overnight shel­ter, as op­posed to the cur­rent fa­cil­ity which can only serve as a day shel­ter, but that will remain an am­bi­tion for the long term, Rogers said.

The Ge­n­e­sis House is open Mon­day through Fri­day from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for walk-ins and 1 to 3 p.m. by ap­point­ment. It is lo­cated at 1402 N. In­gle­wood Drive. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit gen­e­sishous­ or call 479-549-3438.

My mom never made a lot of money, but she helped a lot of peo­ple in her 20 years, a ton of peo­ple. It’s an honor for me to do some­thing even sim­i­lar to what she did.” — Tim Rogers

West­side Ea­gle Observer/HUNTER MCFERRIN

The be­gin­ning of 2019 brought a few per­son­nel changes for the Ge­n­e­sis House, a local non­profit. Tim Rogers (left), will be the new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and will be work­ing along­side for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Har­vey McCone (right), un­til March to learn more about the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s fi­nances, pa­per­work and other nec­es­sary de­tails. Af­ter re­turn­ing from the hol­i­day on Jan. 2, the two looked over some pa­per­work.

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