For well over 10 years, Edward Smith has been managing our homeless shelter; helping The Salvation Army to provide almost 6,000 nights of shelter in 2015 alone.
Being of service to people, in any capacity, is a way of life for him. "I have been called to a life of service," Edward explains. "I have a passion for people that inspires me to push people past their comfort zones."
When a client enters our shelter, they don't just get a warm bed, a full belly and safe place to stay. Edward spends on-on-one time with our residents, teaching them life skills, job interview techniques and aids in interpersonal relationships. He often sets up mock interviews and will assist in resume writing. If a client needs help beyond what we can offer, he refers them to other agencies in Monroe County for further assistance.
"I believe in people," he says. "But I don't believe in doing things the same way and expecting different results. Our shelter does not have a revolving door and I don't want to see people back here. I want them to leave with the skills and confidence they need to change their lives." This tough love approach has seen
This tough love approach has proved effective over the years. Just a few weeks ago, Edward was delighted to run into a former resident, whom we will call Angela, who stayed in our shelter with her 3 kids. During her 6 month stay, she enrolled in school and went on multiple job interviews. Now, Angela has her degree and works as a Supervisor at Sanofi Pasteur in Swiftwater.
"Seeing Angela succeed in life is why I come to work every day. Don't get me wrong, there are people who don't want help and that frustrates and saddens me," Edward says. "But when someone walks through that door, asking for help and wanting a better way to live…" Edward trails off, looking out the window with a big grin on his face. "That is why I do what I do."