Kairos members serving on the Christ House Board of Directors offer invaluable insight and leadership.
Dignity, empowerment, and responsibility are among the core values of Christ House. Living this out includes having the feedback, input, and leadership from the people Christ House serves. During weekly Community Meetings, patients are given the floor to share feedback about how our services can be improved. These facilitated conversations promote patients’ ownership and pride in their own healing journey and provide valuable input into how Christ House can continually meet the needs of our patients. At the three weekly Kairos Program meetings, members provide both input and feedback on the program and living in community. Since 1992, the Kairos Program has provided a permanent residential community for former patients with chronic illnesses who are committed to a life of sobriety and fellowship. From active engagement demonstrated at these meetings, members may be invited to join the Kairos Leadership group.
Valuing and honoring the gifts of everyone at Christ House includes having Kairos Program representatives on the Christ House Board of Directors. Today the 17-member Board of Directors includes four Kairos members: Lawrence Bush, Gerald Henderson, Henry Jones, and Fernando Robinson.
Henry Jones, a founding member of the Kairos Program, was the first Kairos member to join the Christ House Board of Directors. He most enjoys learning what it takes for the organization to keep running. “It’s very interesting to hear about the donors who give and keep the doors open. I like to learn about spending, donors, and things like that.”
Along with policies, the oversight of finances, and other organizational matters, the Kairos board members bring a unique perspective as leaders who are also past patients and current program participants. “At first I turned (the Board) down, because I’m not the type of guy who likes to be in that leadership. I’d rather lead by example where I’m the lay-low, behind the scenes kind of guy. But once I started going and learning what (the Board) is all about, I started enjoying it very much. It’s all about helping the guys, especially the Kairos Program, and I’m a part of that,” says Lawrence. “It’s a learning experience. I’m learning more about the intimate, administrative parts of Christ House.”
Leadership as Service
Having members of the Kairos Program on the Board ensures that the views and experiences of the people Christ House serves are included at all levels. From making face-to-face connections as they encourage new patients, to being at the table when making policy and budget decisions, the engagement and leadership of Kairos members is a gift to the Christ House community and part of our on-going success in caring for some of the most vulnerable people in DC.
“When new patients come in, I often introduce myself and welcome them into Christ House,” says Henry. “I tell them they’re in a good place and they’re going to get the help they need.” Fernando adds, “I’d say (to new patients), this is the best place. There’s no other place like it. We’ll take care of you and will love you until you love yourself.”
Meet the newest Christ House Board Member!
Fernando joined the Kairos program ten years ago. With his signature laugh and infectious energy, he lights up wherever he is in the Christ House community whether it’s preparing the dining room for patients’ lunches or welcoming them into Thursday evening Table Fellowship with some good-natured teasing. When he was invited to join both the Kairos Leadership team and the Christ House Board of Directors, he eagerly accepted without hesitation.
“I never thought I’d be in this type of (leadership) position anyway with my background and how I came up in my life,” says Fernando. “I’m looking forward to putting in my two cents. Everyone has seniority so right now I’m just trying to learn from them. I’m just looking to be a help.”