“Doing together what we cannot do alone” is the guiding vision of Friends In Deed in its role as a Pasadena interfaith organization which provides supportive services to homeless and at-risk community members from its location at 444 East Washington Boulevard.
Friends in Deed board members Tim Howett and Bret Schaefer serve as vibrant examples of that vision. They credit their great board experience to Jericho Road Pasadena’s The Leadership Connection (TLC), a board training and placement program. TLC is offered in 3 three-hour sessions, this year on Mar. 6, 13 and 20; after attending the class, participants are matched with a local nonprofit board and supported as they settle into their new board. TLC prepared Bret and Tim to confidently add their own power to Friends in Deed, which has served the Pasadena community since 1894.
Tim and Bret come from different parts of the business world but found a common cause in helping to provide dignity, guidance and hope for the clients of Friends in Deed.
For Tim, it was hitting the age of 55 as a real estate lawyer and wanting to do something different that inspired him to start searching for a way to give back to his community. When he discovered The Leadership Connection in a local newspaper, he reached out to Jericho Road Pasadena Executive Director Melanie Goodyear and she encouraged him to join the class. He admits he was “a bit of a blank slate” and Melanie helped to align his interests with FID. Tim has served on Friends in Deed board since early 2017 and works with the finance committee and development committee.
“I was looking to do something worthwhile, in a bigger picture,” said Tim. “It has been an excellent choice. I’m doing something tangible.”
Bret wanted to build on his prior volunteer engagement with homeless communities in San Francisco. After working as a CPA for 20 years in Silicon Valley, he moved to Pasadena several years ago and currently works as Vice President of Finance for Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles. With his kids out of college and more free time available, he wanted to find a way to help the hungry and homeless in his new city. Bret currently acts as board treasurer for FID and helps with leadership management.
“[Homelessness] is so tangible that you could be making a significant difference,” explained Bret. “I wanted to apply my full range of skills to combat homelessness, so it was very easy for me to choose the Friends in Deed board.”
Why did The Leadership Connection appeal to them?
For Bret, he realized he could combine his decades of experience within the finance world with his interest in helping at-risk people in order to make a big impact. His participation in the TLC class helped him translate his skills in management to nonprofit board service.
“You can make so much difference in a relatively small environment and it has far exceeded my expectations about what we’ve been able to accomplish at Friends in Deed,” said Bret.
A large part of Tim’s business in real estate and construction involves working alongside nonprofit boards. Even with his prior experience, he found that the education within TLC helped sharpen and focus his communication skills so he could jump into board work feeling more prepared.
“I think the education they provide is just so invaluable,” Tim explained. “It’s not comfortable walking into an organization not knowing what you need to do. TLC helped me get my sea legs before I got on board. It’s great training.” (That’s Melanie’s paraphrased pun.)
Why should people attend The Leadership Connection?
In his own experience, Bret admits that it’s not easy to get started at first in volunteer leadership work because people often don’t know where to start. TLC gives people an invaluable jump start so they can play a bigger role in their community.
“You don’t know who to talk to and you don’t know what you can do,” said Bret. “You have this general idea. [The Leadership Connection] will help you make it specific. It will give you a way in.”
Thanks for volunteer Skye Hannah for writing this article! Skye serves as a communications and events specialist with the Caltech Associates at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. She is a former staff writer and senior photojournalist for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, GA.