New executive director sets high goals for Newgate Mission's future
Aug. 7, 2015 at 11:27 p.m.
The new executive director is changing attitudes and brightening the atmosphere at Newgate Mission in Longview, staff members say.
The mission also has a new missions director, who has been there about a week.
Kristi Bogle-Sherman, is leading the mission after serving for many years as a volunteer and serving as board secretary since January. The board of directors appointed Bogle-Sherman as director June 29.
"I want our community members to know that things are changing," Bogle-Sherman said.
Physical changes include volunteers repainting the mission's dining room, two offices and the dressing rooms at the Bargain Center (the mission's charity thrift store) during a mid-July weekend.
"I can tell you, it's just so much brighter and warmer and more inviting," Bogle-Sherman said.
"I feel our community sees enough institutional spaces, and we just want them to feel good when they're here. It's really a place for anyone who may not have a place to go."
Bogle-Sherman is set to serve through December. The board of directors then will re-evaluate operations at the mission and decide whether it should begin searching for a new executive director, she said.
"With respect to Rev. Jennene (Laurinec), she really established a culture of caring about our community here, and so I think everybody is really trying to carry that on," Bogle-Sherman said.
Laurinec, who served as executive director for Newgate for six years, suffered a stroke in late February. She partially had returned to her post before finally being dismissed by the board of directors in May.
A few years ago, the mission started working toward renovating and expanding its efforts. In 2012, the mission took possession of two neighboring vacant properties, which were cleared in 2013 for new construction. Last year, Laurinec had planned a fundraising campaign for the expansion.
However, Bogle-Sherman said Friday that any plans for expansion are on hold while the mission focuses on the services it provides in its two buildings and while it works to strengthen Newgate's financial position.
In the past few months, the mission has implemented some small changes that have made a big difference, said Oliver Williams, who has worked at the mission for the past seven years.
"The building's been painted; we moved the help desk across the street. It used to be inside (the dining hall)," Williams said.
Before the help desk was moved, clients had to go to the dining hall and wait in line to get towels and toiletries before going to the hygiene building for a shower. Now, everything clients need to shower is in one place, Williams said.
"I would say (clients) are more thankful or grateful," Williams said. "What we try to stress most of all is respecting one another.
Some of these changes were implemented before Bogle-Sherman took office, under the supervision of interim-executive director Ron Buckner. This included ID cards that are able to track the services that clients use and receive.
"That's a new thing we're doing that just makes so much sense, moving us into the 21st century and helping us track what we're giving," Bogle-Sherman said. "We want to be eligible for certain grants, and we've got to be able to show what we are doing. So that's a huge step in that direction.
"Ron Buckner was our interim-executive director, and he left a week or two ago," Bogle-Sherman said. "But a lot of these changes — the ID cards and the showers and laundry over there — were things that he did. And they have already had a huge impact on the community. He showed a lot of leadership during kind of a tough time."
Moving forward, Bogle-Sherman hopes to focus on financial stability, improve operational organization and implement core values to create a greater sense of accountability at the mission. The mission's first open house later this month is among the various fundraisers Bogle-Sherman is planning. She hopes to raise money for new floors in the mission's dining room.
"Financial stability — that's our No. 1 goal," Bogle-Sherman said. "I've got a lot of events planned for the rest of the year, but the open house (Aug. 25) is certainly at the forefront and the biggest thing that's going on right now. But in terms of other things we're doing, we're also getting ready for Gobble Wobble (a walk/run fundraising event). We do that every year the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so we're really excited about that. Our goal this year is, we want to have 500 participants and raise $50,000."
It takes about $40,000 to support Newgate for one month, Bogle-Sherman said. It serves about 170 people per meal, Williams said. The mission serves breakfast on weekends and serves lunch every day of the week.
New mission director
The mission also has a new mission director, Demetria Anderson, who started July 30.
"I visit with the clients or participants and try to help them get some of their needs met, whatever it is that they're needing," Anderson said. "Not necessarily that we provide those services, but here's the direction you can go or I give them referrals."
Anderson began volunteering at the mission three years ago.
"Mainly, right now I'm just trying to learn my new job," she said.
"I enjoy it. I actually volunteered here when I was out of work for about three months about three years ago."
Her main focus as mission director is having different programs and agencies come to speak with the clients from 9 and 11 a.m., she said.
Stable housing and transportation are the most noticeable needs of Newgate clients, Anderson said.
"Some properties aren't their best, so housing is a need," she said. "If the city transportation system were better, that would make life better for some people because we no longer live in a 9 to 5 world."
The organization will unveil its redesigned website Wednesday. Visit www.newgatemission.org for information on how to donate or volunteer.
"Most of the volunteers we get now; they are really excited," Williams said. "They're not used to being around a lot of people like this, but as they come around, they adjust to it. I've seen about three different managements come through, and each time it's gotten better and better. (Bogle-Sherman is) the kind of lady that lets you know how you're doing and what to expect and that it's not hard."