Paul Fordham, deputy executive director of Novato’s Homeward Bound of Marin, wins a North Bay Business Journal Nonprofit Leadership Award
Professional background: I have served as deputy executive director of Homeward Bound since 2010, following six years with the organization’s development department. Previously, I worked in homeless services at Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento, and Julian House Shelter in England.
Fueled by a belief in the power and possibility of change, I have helped Homeward Bound launch fundraising strategies, develop social enterprises, and create nationally replicated programs such as the first ‘Nonprofit IPO.’ In 2015, I received a Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Marin County Human Rights Commission.
Education: University of Wales, Swansea, UK, Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and American Studies
Number of staff: 89
Describe your organization: Founded in 1974, Homeward Bound has grown to become the leading provider of shelter and supportive housing for people in Marin struggling with homelessness and pressing poverty, including working families, youth, veterans, seniors, and individuals with incarceration histories, disabilities, or mental health challenges.
Our mission of “opening doors to safety, dignity, hope, and independence,” is underscored by a vision that “everyone deserves a place to call home.”
With 16 residential options ranging from Marin’s only year-round emergency shelters to permanent supportive housing, Homeward Bound serves 1,000 people annually. We provide an array of services to help people achieve self-sufficiency and build pathways out of homelessness, including benefits access, health care linkages, housing navigation, case management, food assistance, and job training.
What is your role in the organization?
As deputy executive director at Homeward Bound of Marin I feel privileged to wear many different hats. I am involved in fundraising, social enterprise business development, program oversight, and strategic planning.
I do everything from making mini-documentary videos to help homeless clients tell their stories to advocating for affordable housing development at City Council meetings.
Along with the amazing Homeward Bound team, I have led four major capital campaigns, raising over $31 million in capital funding in recent years and have overseen development of several social enterprise initiatives including a celebrity chef cooking series, a line of dog treats, and an events and catering space.
How has your organization been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Homeward Bound has adapted to serve more people and vastly expand our role in Marin because of COVID-19. As a provider of essential services, our programs have grown to assist the community at this extremely challenging time.
Our top priority remains keeping people safe, healthy, and nourished in our congregate shelter and housing programs, including staff who cannot work remotely due to the nature of their essential jobs.
Homeward Bound’s staff are stretching their roles by managing new programs that allow people without homes to receive safe shelter.
We are also providing increased food assistance, virtual case management, and purchasing more cleaning products plus personal protective equipment.
In addition, our culinary team has pivoted to providing and distributing more meals to people in our programs, as well as low-income seniors in northern Marin through a new program funded by the State.
Our award-winning culinary job training program canceled classes this spring, but re-launched over the summer in a revised format as an advanced training curriculum with in-depth instruction and empowerment skills classes for people fulfilling supportive employment roles in our kitchens.
What are the ways your organization responded to increased demands for services, and fiscally, in what has your organization been forced to adjust?
As the pandemic persists, we continue opening our hearts and doors to people without a place to call home. Our essential programs for people struggling with a crisis of homelessness in Marin County have grown to keep vulnerable people safely sheltered during this critical time.
Adjusted school schedules and the economic fallout have resulted in Marin’s homeless families being acutely affected though job loss, lack of childcare, and no means to pay rent.
As people continue seeking safe refuge at our shelters and many are without jobs, we have seen an unprecedented surge for assistance, especially food relief.
At the same time, most of our community’s local pantries remain closed, putting residents in an extremely precarious situation as they are no longer able to access these vital resources to sustain themselves and their families.