From corporate to nonprofit
Gillanders has since worked with a total of six different nonprofits, serving members of the community who are at greatest risk. One organization was dedicated to supporting victims of domestic violence, providing professional assistance, protective services, and finding safe living spaces for the victims.
Then, a little over a year ago, a recruiter came to him with an offer to join Pathways of Hope, an organization dedicated to advocating for the homeless, finding long-term housing solutions while working to keep disadvantaged families from becoming homeless. As executive director, he’s had the great opportunity to use his business acumen to support the local homeless population. It’s an endeavor that has paid huge dividends and created a wealth of success stories.
“We’ve been able to help thousands of people overall,” Gillanders said. “In 2017 alone, we were able to get nearly 200 people into permanent housing. And we kept many others from becoming homeless.”
He offers a compelling example: “There was a young woman who had a serious substance abuse problem, like so many homeless people. But now, after going through the Pathways of Hope program, she’s been sober for about a year and was able to transition to permanent housing. Stories like that are what we live for.”
Pathways of Hope leverages a number of resources such as fundraising events, direct donations, and partnerships with organizations such as Via Esperanza and New Vista, two immediate-response shelters for homeless families.
The idea is to help the homeless transition to temporary housing, then ultimately a permanent place to live, offering financial assistance for move-in costs.
“Pathways of Hope is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged, but the homeless problem is really a societal problem that affects us all,” Gillanders said. “Women living on the streets are especially vulnerable and at-risk for assault. Something has to be done. Ending homelessness would provide massive benefits to entire communities.”
Nonprofits span a wide range of causes and missions, offering myriad career opportunities for committed individuals. The American Red Cross, Sierra Club, Disabled American Veterans, World Wildlife Fund, Alzheimer’s Association and Feeding America are just a handful of large nonprofits that need well-trained, knowledgeable staff.
The rewards of nonprofit work are circular, in a sense. Not only does it improve lives and communities, it provides meaning and purpose to the folks who make a living helping others. And it’s an increasingly attractive career option for a wide range of individuals.
In Gillanders’ case, he chose to mentor a new generation seeking the same path. So he joined DCE as an instructor to share his real-world experience and business expertise, teaching fundamental elements necessary to navigate the current nonprofit terrain.