Changing Lives at ANEW Place – An interview with Kevin Pounds Part II

Written by admin on Mar 21, 2018 in - No Comments

You can read Part I of this conversation here.

Seven years ago, Kevin Pounds started making meals once a month as a volunteer at ANEW Place (previously the Burlington Emergency Shelter). Now he serves as executive director of the nonprofit organization, which provides a holistic continuum of services for the homeless so that they are equipped with the tools needed for lifelong change. Kevin recently spoke at Church at the Well, and as a follow-up, I asked him to give us a little more information about what homelessness looks like right now in Vermont and how ANEW Place is bringing change through dignity and love. In the conversation below, Kevin shares how his stereotypes of people struggling with homelessness were shattered, spells out ANEW Place’s unique approach, and tells more than one exciting success story. You can read more about ANEW Place and the lives it is changing at www.anewplacevt.org.

In your opinion, what are the greatest needs that homeless people have? 

Healthy relationships.  They need people filled with God’s love who believe they matter, who believe there’s a better path forward, and who aren’t afraid to provide encouragement and accountability.  The word “community” often gets overused, but it’s really difficult to break the cycle of chronic homelessness without a robust support system that involves real friendships.

A Mother Teresa quote is especially relevant: “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless.  The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”

Tell me about how ANEW Place is different from a typical shelter.

I’m very biased, but I think the biggest difference is the intentional process and pathway forward that we offer.  Our 4-phase continuum of care is all about providing a place of stability so our guests can break free of the cycle of homelessness and live on their own again.

Would you briefly explain the phases of the program?

Phase 1 is ANEW Start, which includes our intake process and welcoming a new guest into our group home, where they can move from survival mode to a place of safety.

Phase 2 is ANEW Step, which involves the twenty guests living in the men’s and women’s dorms, where they receive individualized case management focused on charting a path forward.

Phase 3 is our ANEW Leaf transitional housing program, which is one of the most unique aspects of ANEW Place.  Guests have to apply for this 5-month program, where they receive budget coaching, take rental classes, and pay into a rental emergency fund. Upon completion, most receive a Section 8 housing voucher.

After guests complete the transitional housing program, they enter Phase 4: ANEW Life, where our staff helps them find long-term housing, provides two years of case management aftercare, and manages their rental emergency fund so they have a long runway towards independent living.

What are you most excited about right now at ANEW Place? What gives you hope?

I love the stories, but I also enjoy the statistics because statistics let us know that the stories are legit.  Just over the past three weeks, we saw three individuals move directly out of our ANEW Step men’s and women’s dorm into their own places, and seven others start new jobs.  In 2017 we saw seven people complete our ANEW Leaf transitional housing program, and we’re on track to see ten do the same in 2018.  We’re so excited about the momentum that we’re asking God to provide a dedicated facility for the transitional housing program.  This would double our transitional housing program to ten at a time (twenty per year) and allow us to expand our ANEW Step men’s and women’s dorm at our present location on North Street.

What else would you like to share about homelessness that we might not know, or about the work of ANEW Place?

If you take the time to get to know our guests, you’ll be surprised with how you see God at work in the life of our guests as well as your own.  That’s what encouraged me to keep coming back as a volunteer and what still motivates me as the Executive Director.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you would like to support the work of ANEW Place, there are a few ways to do so: You can join us in preparing meals for the guests on Sunday March 18th or Thursday March 29th (please RSVP to Abby at Abby@wellchurchvt.com). Additionally, through the end of March, we are collecting needed items for Welcome Packages to be distributed to incoming guests. Wool socks, new underwear (men’s and women’s), shampoo, deodorant, Dunkin Donuts gift cards, and 10-ride Green Mountain Transit bus passes can be dropped off in the laundry basket in the Lake Lobby on Sunday mornings until April 1st. Check out other ways to volunteer as well as how to give financially by going to www.anewplacevt.org or contacting Katie Ballard at katie@anewplacevt.org.