Christy Fritz, former day manager at The Ark homeless shelter in Elkin, has taken on the role of house manager to better the residents and growth of the shelter.
In the past, The Ark, a shelter for women and families, has had four managers helping guests — one day manager, one night manager, and two weekend managers, each with their own tasks throughout the day. Fritz is in charge of day-time duties such as paper work, appointments and referrals. Due to her duties during the day, along with her experience and training on North Carolina’s database for homeless shelters, The Ark has decided to move Fritz to house manager to better run the day-time operations while acting as an anchor for the shelter’s other managers.
“She’s here during the day Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, and that’s the busiest time of the day for making referrals for agencies and people coming into the shelter,” said Cynthia Cothren, director of The Ark. “She will help relieve the day-time work so I can spend some time doing other things such as fundraising and writing grants with the community.”
According to Cothren, Fritz has one of the most important positions in The Ark due to the interactions and support she shows to the shelter’s guests and their needs.
“What she does is important. She’s on the firing lines helping people,” said Cothren. “The managers have the most important jobs working one-on-one with these folks, working on housing, jobs, medical issues, transportation, child care, it’s all a huge responsibility. This is their lives and futures we’re helping them with here.”
Cothren believes Fritz will be a fantastic fit for the position because of her dedication to the shelter’s guests.
“She’s great,” said Cothren. “She’s awesome working with the guests here and she’s very patient, compassionate, knowledgeable in agencies and great at making referrals.”
Fritz’s duties include working the NC Database, being responsible for reports during the month, checking guests in and out of The Ark, giving medications out as needed, making sure rules are followed and chores are completed, and running conflict resolution.
“Not a lot changed per se as far as my duties,” said Fritz. “We just felt like, for the other managers, they should have one central person to talk to about issues in the house. I’m the anchor now. It’s also a nice way for us to bounce things off each other so we can come together and figure things out. It will help us to be a better rounded team. Leadership is not about force. It’s about leading through example and I think you encompass your whole group in that respect. A leader is in the midst of the group, leading by example and bouncing things off of people. In the end it’s about what’s best for The Ark and what’s best for the guests.”
For Fritz, helping people at The Ark is a job that is not all black and white and is filled with lots of shades of gray.
“It’s not just a job,” said Fritz. “I always tell people if you’re not here because you have a passion for people, then you’re going to hurt yourself and you’re going to hurt other people. I come to the same office every day, but it’s never the same day for me. That’s what you get when you deal with people’s lives and emotions. When people move out, when they’ve found a place to live, or when they make an accomplishment, that’s what I love most here.”
In other news, The Ark also has a few activities and events coming up these next few months.
The Ark will be participating in the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival on Sept. 24 selling fall wreaths, barn quilts, and pumpkin baked goods.
Cardboard City will be taking place on Nov. 19 at the Elkin Municipal Park and will feature guests and residents decorating cardboard boxes that represent homelessness. People decorate their box and will raise money to get out of the box to raise funds for The Ark
“We’ve had churches, businesses, and different groups and organizations participate in the past,” said Cothren. “One group last year did a Hobbit theme from ‘Lord of the Rings.’ We’re hoping for a larger participation as it’s just been growing every year. This will be our third cardboard city. We will also have soup and hot drinks at the event.”
Carol McDowell also is making row-by-row quilt pieces to sell for donations to The Ark.
The Ark also has hopes of hiring an in-house counselor in the future to help guests.
“I would love for The Ark to one day to have an in-house counselor if we get big enough and get enough funding for such a position,” said Fritz. “Sometimes we have people who just can’t get out for counseling and there’s a large number who come in who need counseling. It would be wonderful to have group and individual counseling here.”
Any donations to The Ark are always appreciated.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.