Board Spotlight — Michael Newton
Why did you decide to volunteer with Second Step?
In the nearly twenty-one years I have lived in Vancouver, I have been pleased to know many civic-minded people, dedicated to improving the lives of those around us.
My sister was serving on the board of directors a few years ago. She suggested that I contact Tim Foley, the then-new executive director, to see if there might be a spot for me to serve. I was very impressed with Second Step’s mission, and am grateful to have been offered the opportunity to serve the Vancouver/Clark County community in this way. In the years since, my appreciation for our mission, and its execution has only grown.
What is your favorite part of your job?
As with everybody on the board, I love knowing that we make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens. The positive energy of being around a table (virtually, for the time being) with other like-minded members is very rewarding.
Board members are not often called upon to actually get dirty, cleaning up our housing units, or moving furniture. But when I have had that opportunity, it’s fun to break a sweat with other volunteers.
What is the hardest part of your job?
It is easy for those of us who have never faced homelessness to take for granted the things that come with a home; shelter, an address to help one move forward with job applications, or accessing other benefits.
The hardest part for me is knowing that the needs in the community outstrip our ability to meet them. When we are able to add new housing units, they are filled almost immediately. I am apprehensive of what lay ahead, as programs set up to meet the COVID-19 emergency begin to lapse. We intend to be there, and hope to be able to do more.
What would you say to someone considering making a donation to Second Step?
When we look around our community, and see people experiencing homelessness, we may avert our gaze, or blame them for their own situation. These feelings are understandable. But when you see the changes in these people when they are able to obtain housing, I hope it casts the situation in another light, and motivates us to do something to effect a change, both in those individuals, and in our society.
Your contribution to Second Step Housing is a great way to directly make this kind of difference.
My favorite thing about Vancouver is…
The pace of life, the range of interesting, caring people. And, of course, its proximity to the most beautiful hiking trails I have ever experienced, in the Columbia Gorge.