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  1. Lora Gentry

    Interview with Charles Wourms, Daily Operations Manager and Melody Barrett, Executive Director of House of Bread
    Informally, describe your career track.
    I have always worked within the Catholic Services system (Friends of St. Francis- operations director) in running the day to day business for them. I was always on the road covering the Diocese in Columbus and was never home which ended up compromising my health. I obviously started looking for another position somewhere else.
    How did you get from point A to point B in your organization?
    I actually started here at House of Bread volunteering once a week working in the kitchen as a food prep for about a year. The title and job I have now came available last July; they started me out as a private contractor on a 1099 for a short while. Now I am a full time employee.
    What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first job hunting?
    That’s really not a question that has an exact answer. Things change around here a lot sometimes and I guess I was “privy” to some of those inside answers coming in as volunteer first; however that didn’t stop me from accepting a job when it was offered.
    What misconceptions do people have about your job? What’s the reality?
    The misconceptions of my job is that it’s an 8 hour day/40 hours per week and that I can just go home at the end of the day and kick my heels up and relax. Reality: this is a 7 days a week operation that starts at 6am with deliveries and food preparation for upwards of 220-230 daily lunches just for here, taking phone calls from our donors, keeping up on maintenance and cleaning and even pinch hitting if someone can’t be here to work. There are days that I am literally here from sunrise to sunset. It’s a rolling schedule- working 14 days straight in a row with no time off sometimes.
    What do you love about your work?
    What I love is that I know I am making a difference in the people’s life’s that come in here to eat, getting to know them and their story, allowing them in to get warm, enjoy some coffee and have something solid in their life’s on a daily and routine basis.
    Did your passion change any when you became a full time staff member, for better or worse?
    As stated before, I started as a volunteer, I knew some of the expectations of what it took to be here, it’s exhausting work here some weeks but I wouldn’t ever change what I’m here for.
    What advice would you give to someone interested in a career similar to yours?
    You have to love people and can’t be selfish. This a hard but rewarding career, you need to volunteer- A LOT in several different positions and even in other organizations, if need be. Set yourself in the trenches and make sure this is where you want to be.
    What resources might help someone interested in your field and job function?
    Do research in organizational management, take classes that focus on non-profit and volunteerism, get the know-how on grant writing and get good at it, lol. Volunteer, do lots of community service make sure this is where you want to be because it takes passion to be here and you can’t come in half- hearted and expect great rewards.
    What kind of training do you provide?
    We provide training for our new volunteers to work alongside one of our experienced volunteers by immersion. We tell, we show, then we do. We are very gracious with our new volunteers because that is how we truly are able to stay on with our daily operations.
    What do you look for when hiring a new employee?
    Most of the staff here (with the exception of Melody) started out as volunteers, we see them as team players and family. Dedicated, willing to work and work hard and love for our guests.
    How do you predict how people will work together?
    Most of the time when folks come in to work here, they want to be here and are enthusiastic just wanting to help out. They all find their niches, some are more excited than others but overall we work together as a team with not too many hiccups.

    Interview with Melody Barnett, Executive Director of House of Bread

    When did you become the director here at House of Bread?
    I have been the director for around 12 years now. I’m one of six full-time staff members here.
    What is your job like on a day to day basis?
    Most of my days are spent with paper work for funding and grant writing, interacting with our volunteers and staff. Spending time out front with our guests and getting to know them, and if they are new to our facility welcoming them. There’s a great need to be flexible and fluid because I just never know when and where I may be needed, filling the gap if one of our staff has to fill another’s job. Such as today, since Charles is covering for our kitchen manager who is out sick I will be helping with checking in our food deliveries from Trader Joe’s and Dorothy Lane market.
    Why are you here as the director?
    Hunger has always been a concern for me and our local community. I came on here to help make a difference in people’s lives, to be open 7 days a week sharing a meal with those who need to be fed.
    What is HOD’s philosophy?
    House of Bread’s philosophy is based on not having an agenda. To be charitable, to show love and concern for others with being religious zealots. By not placing a belief on the guests, it still shows them God’s love in a way that isn’t pushy and maybe will put them off. We believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect and deserve a hot meal. We have maintained that belief for over 30 years now.
    How is HOB funded?
    We get a lot of our funding when it gets closer to the holidays. Our biggest days come around between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. (I had a questionable look on my face at this time so she explained), the reason that these holidays are our biggest is because of the obvious, people feel obligated to help, we also get an influx of volunteers in and around this time, they see the work we do here and then they want to donate funds and time, this actually takes care of up to 70% of our individual donations. We also hold a yearly gala celebrating our anniversary , the University of Dayton sponsored a first time 5k run for raising hunger awareness on October 1st, 2013, as well as Wright State holds a dinner for the same.
    The other funding comes through various civic organizations; Optimists, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, the Woodsmen, churches, and other religious organizations. I write a lot of impassioned letters to a lot of people ( I asked- grants right?) Yes, grant writing is important here, however it actually only covers less than 5%, the letters go out to our previous donors asking for contributions. We receive no funding from the city, county or state.
    We proudly can say that through fund raising that the land and the building were completely paid off four years ago which makes House of Bread an independent non-profit.
    What do you love most about your job?
    What I love most about it is that I’m able to see a positive difference being made every day in the lives of people who work here as volunteers and who come here for a meal. Making a difference is game changer for a lot of these people.

    What were some of the unexpected parts of coming on here as the director?
    Not expecting such long hours. There are days that I have to be here well beyond the typical 9 hour shifts I work. You have to be ready to do the work and not go home until it’s done. Thankfully, my family has always been a part of this so they are very understanding.

    How are the food donations/ deliveries handled? Are they donated or actually a need to be bought such as in the case of hard goods?
    The food for our meals here at House of Bread come from donations. We have dedicated donors that are diligent in weekly deliveries such as Trader Joe’s, GFS, Dorothy Lane Market and Kroger’s for produce and meat. We also have specialty donors that give us baked goods. (Oh, so like Bill’s donuts and Bagel Café)? Yes, on Bill’s, Kroger and DLM as well. We will accept from Bagel Café, however, those are usually a hard type bread, our guests have a lot of dental issues so we try and concentrate on soft bakery items. The hard goods you’re referring to are bought such as spices, sugar, coffee, paper products and sometimes cleaning supplies. Once in a while; ISupply will donate those cleaning supplies to us.

    How are the meals prepared here?
    Well, as you can see, all of the food that has just been delivered is fresh, so our lunches are prep intensive with nothing raw. (Such as what I was talking about earlier on dental issues). Home-cooked hot meals, nothing processed for our guests. We start between 6-8 am every morning and are ready to serve lunch at around 1130 everyday, 365 days a year. We put out around 230- 240 lunches per day as well as 200+ additional meals that go out for adult and children’s programs.

    What are some recommendations for someone who may want a job like yours?
    I recommend getting a lot of community service under your belt first, try being in different positions with mentoring and using that as experiences for college. Take courses in management, accounting, and of course grant writing. The class you’re taking now is useful as well I’m sure.

    How is the House of Bread held financially accountable?
    The House of Bread is a private, 501c3 not for profit organization. We are overseen by a Governing Board of Directors (all volunteers), who hire and advise me. The House of Bread meets all accountability standards set by the Better Business Bureau of which we are a charter member, and is a member of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce. We are a partner agency of the United Way of the Greater Dayton. Our financial records are audited at the end of each fiscal year with a 990 form submitted to the IRS.

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