NKD Inspires: Leading with Kindness

NKD Inspires: Leading with Kindness

It’s safe to say that Covid-19 has hit many people and communities hard. In these times it is therefore vital that we reach out to others and come together to offer help, encouragement and support to those who are struggling.

Daniel Roby, CEO of the Austin Street Center, is someone who truly has made a huge difference, showing real leadership, resilience and compassion during these times of crisis. It was during his undergraduate degree at Baylor University when Daniel first took in two homeless men off the streets to sleep on his sofa. He then went on to become the CEO of the Austin Street Center in 2015, which was set up in 1982 and is the largest free emergency centre in Dallas. Daniel has been truly inspirational with his work, helping people to overcome their daily struggles on the streets and to secure long-term housing and employment.

Whilst we are all suffering loss of varying degrees throughout this pandemic, reading Roby’s story made me feel incredibly grateful for all I do have. I am incredibly fortunate to have had a space to shield from the virus and to be able to carry on working from home, whilst many have been out on the streets and in the cold fighting on their own every day just to stay safe.

Strength in numbers

The homeless community is one that was particularly struck during the outbreak of Covid-19 and with experts telling everyone to stay home, where were the homeless meant to go? With the new social distancing measures in place, Daniel highlights how overcrowded streets and shelters made it almost impossible for the homeless to escape the virus.

Faced with this new challenge, Daniel and his team have rallied together and have been fighting to continue their selfless and incredible work for the homeless. Determined not to give up, he adapted the entire shelter and operation in order to comply with new rules of social distancing and hygiene by increasing space between beds, pulling in additional medical resource, implementing new cleaning procedures, and installing hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the building.

Furthermore, despite being in the depths of a pandemic, they still managed in October to help 30 people transition out of homelessness and into their own accommodation. 

The Austin Street Center and many other associations for the homeless in Dallas also began to have daily calls in order to share information and critical resources. These organisations have proved just how crucial teamwork and collaboration is to make the world of work better and how by joining forces, we can all make a positive difference in times of need.

Doing our bit

Daniel and his team are a prime example of the passion and grit needed to see through a time of crisis but also of the power of compassion. “A smile and a wave can go a long way,” Daniel says. “I’ve heard stories from people who say, ‘I didn’t believe that I was ready to make any changes. Then, this person was kind to me and I decided to give it a shot.’” 

So how can we add in more kindness to our daily life? Even with social distancing measures still in place, we can still do our bit to help those struggling during this time. Whether that’s handing out water, hand sanitiser, hot drinks or food to those we see on the streets or even simply stopping to acknowledge someone for a chat, these small acts could make the world of difference, after all, “The most valuable thing that you can give,” Daniel says, “is human kindness.” 

Resources

For more resources on great homelessness initiatives based in the UK visit Crisis Org, Shelter, Centerpoint and Mungos

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