At times, an organization dedicated to helping others may require some help of its own. Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County (UGM-TC) is a united Christian organization and ministry dedicated to providing support and rehabilitation for the homeless in the Fort Worth community and has been committed to doing so since 1888. UGM-TC is no small operation – it is a six-acre campus with many buildings and 60+ employees who served 880 clients last year. In 2012, a few UGM-TC staff members sought the help of SCORE Fort Worth for guidance in tackling low-level managerial issues and a new undertaking for the organization: a major capital campaign to build a 60 bed women and family facility. But after a few months of collaboration, the SCORE Fort Worth mentors realized that there were more pressing issues that needed addressing – namely Human Resource management from the top. They were on-hand to help.
SCORE Fort Worth embarked on a comprehensive study of UGM's staffing, management practices and general administrative functions with the goal of helping to improve the organization. From there, the team of mentors and UGM-TC staff met once a month to complete the organizational analysis.
As time wore on, it became clear that upper level management of UGM-TC had far larger workloads than could be managed. The SCORE mentors’ job became helping the small group at the top find ways to let go of some of the day-to-day tasks and allocating responsibility to other staff members. With these newly defined goals in mind the mentors spent increasing amounts of time looking at the staffing situation and reworking job descriptions.
At the beginning of the meetings together the need for high-level HR staff was mentioned but it was put to the side because of limited funding. For many months it was put off, but by spring 2013, UGM-TC’s Board of Directors approved a staff position for an HR director. It started as a part-time position, but in just a few months developed into a full time position. Special meetings were also held to work on a clear and usable organization chart.
As of June 2013, Tarrant County’s homeless population had grown 10 percent since 2011 to 2,390, and the number of people living unsheltered more than doubled to 281, according to results of a January count by the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition. The count found 338 homeless families with children, up from 292 in 2011. To address the needs of this family population, UGM-TC announced plans to build the Scott Walker Women and Families Services Building, named for a commercial real estate developer and mission volunteer. The 39,707-square-foot building will have five rooms where two-parent families can stay with their children while getting back on their feet, five rooms for single men who are caring for their children and 28 rooms for single women who are participating in the long-term program. A 12-bed overnight dormitory will be for single women who walk in on a daily basis. That brings the capacity for single women at the Union Gospel Mission to 68 beds. It is scheduled to open in September 2014.
While living at the mission, homeless clients work with the staff to acquire the tools, education and support they need to become self-sufficient. Residents work with case managers to address factors that led to homelessness, including domestic violence, physical and mental health issues, and substance abuse. Clients stay an average of six months.
A capital campaign for the $8.2 million project is underway. The mission raised $5.9 million, and the Oklahoma-based Mabee Foundation has pledged to donate the last $1 million when the mission raises $7.2 million.