Welcome back to Hope Scope. We are excited that you are joining us for another amazing interview. Today, we want to highlight a special guest who has directed the tech side of the Mission for over 17 years. Meet Eric, the Manager of Information at the Mission! He has helped run our operations and website. We are so thankful to have had someone as dedicated as him in our staff.
Eric is leaving the Mission and starting a new opportunity as a consultant to further help people with his IT knowledge. It is bittersweet, but we know he will continue to do great things and make a positive difference. As part of our goodbye, we want to remember the good times and commemorate his years of service in this article. Keep on reading below to learn more about what Eric enjoys best about the Mission and lessons he will carry with him to his new beginnings!
1. Can you tell our readers about yourself, your background, your journey on how you came to the Mission?
Hi Friends! My name is Eric, and the journey of this tall midwestern orange-juice lover’s career begins in Michigan. After college, I dipped my toes into the family sales business, but really wanted to work in IT instead. I loved working for a non-profit in D.C. and in tech-heavy Silicon Valley during the dot com bubble. It was 18 years ago that I came here, saw Pedro Martinez pitching for the Red Sox, and fell in love with the city of Boston.
In-between temp jobs, I answered an ad for an IT volunteer at the Boston Rescue Mission. Little by little, I was fixing problems and improving systems, and next thing I know, I was promoted from volunteer to the Manager of Information!
2. You have been the Manager of Information of the Mission for over 17 years! What has been your favorite part about working at the Mission?
Must I pick one favorite? How about I highlight 2 items and an honorable mention.
The first element has to be the cause. Hunger and homelessness are such simple parts of living, and helping those who go hungry without a home is so important. But Mission staff really shine when they’re treating the underlying causes of homelessness. Most of us know someone who has struggled with dependency on alcohol or drugs, and it can be devastating; a person can lose everything. In my eyes, guiding someone through that grueling process of unlearning addictive behavior is one of the most challenging and most important jobs anyone could have.
Secondly, the Mission excels at being a flexible organization. Whether it’s utilizing the skills of employees, volunteers, interns, and residents, crafting strategic plans, juggling operations, defining creative funding streams, or storing in-kind donations in a small downtown space, the Mission has tried a lot of things and found a lot of success. On a personal level, I took advantage of this flexibility to fill a lot of different roles over the years, and really gained a broad view of how a nonprofit works.
Honorable mention: the kitchen. It’s worth a short story in itself. Tens of thousands of meals are served each year, from the simple to the extravagant, from a modest kitchen in a basement in the heart of Boston. Managers and shift leads practice flexibility with food and staffing every day. Food donations come in constantly, but they vary. Residents come down to help with shifts, but many need “mental health days” as they rebuild and transform themselves. Through it all, people come together over meals, share their experiences, and support each other along their journey of transformation.
3. What inspires you or motivates you to help people with your tech skills?
I’ve always loved both to learn and to teach. I went back to school a couple of years ago to earn a masters degree in cyber security, a critical part of keeping companies’ data safe. If I can help to teach people about the role they can play in protecting the operations of great causes like the Mission, that will help to inspire me each day.
4. We just want to thank you for all that you have done for our guests and all your years of service at the Mission. Everyone at the Mission will miss you. As you begin a new chapter in your life at a consultant firm, what is one thing you will take away from the Mission to your new job?
There are so many interwoven parts that make up a smoothly running nonprofit organization. Learning many of those features that support food service, shelter operations, and programs that transform the lives of people who are struggling gave me great insight that I can apply to the nonprofit and for-profit clients who also need IT help where I’m consulting now.
5. Do you have any final words that you would like to share with our readers?
Your support really is critical to the people struggling to get off the streets and into homes. When a person at the Mission can see the people around them healing and rebuilding themselves, a community emerges that cares for and supports itself. Mission staff and volunteers, and often guests’ family members can see that community lifting up its members and inspiring each other along their journey. We try to tell those stories as best we can, to show you how much your engagement means to our homeless neighbors. Thank you so much for caring.