Hope Solutions is kicking off a new feature to spotlight our team members and the amazing work they do daily to fulfill our mission to heal the effects of poverty and homelessness by providing permanent housing solutions and vital support services. Our hats off to John Gallagher, Adult Case Manager, who is our first interviewee!
HOPE SOLUTIONS: What drew you to Hope Solutions?
JOHN: I was looking to pivot towards community service after past professional lives as an officer and pilot in the Marines and then as a corporate telecom guy. My wife, who works at Saint Mary’s College (SMC), connected me with SMC’s social justice program. Contra Costa Interfaith Housing (now known as Hope Solutions) kept coming up in the conversation. When I interviewed staff at SMC, I heard repeatedly “our AmeriCorps Vista members have had such great experiences there.” That led to an informational interview with Executive Director, Deanne Pearn and Human Resources Director, Kristina Davis—which led to encouragement, and a couple of months later, an invitation to apply for an open position.
HOPE SOLUTIONS: What positions have you held at Hope Solutions?
JOHN: Initially, I was a Life Skills Coordinator which focused particularly on our county-wide, multi-site single adult program. But with the emergency challenges of the Coronarvirus, I gained a side hustle of “the Food Dude” focused on how to best support the food access needs of our most vulnerable residents. And now I’m really excited to be supporting twenty-two of our older single adults as a Case Manager.
HOPE SOLUTIONS: What do you like most about your position?
JOHN: Of course, it’s all about the people we support. Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries down in L.A. talks about how it’s not about “helping others” per se—it’s about what you’ll learn from them as you “make the circle bigger”—as you get more inclusive. One of Father Boyle’s quotes that resonates with me is “I defy you to define who is the service provider and who is the service recipient.” Wow!—Amen to that in my short experience.
HOPE SOLUTIONS: How has your role adapted to COVID-19 pandemic? How is Hope Solutions addressing food security for residents?
JOHN: We quickly reached out to the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties and food pantries throughout our county to see how we could best support our clients. Now our staff draws deeply on the support of organizations like White Pony Express and the food pantries at Monument Crisis Center, the Salvation Army Community Church, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and—particularly—on our relationship with St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Concord. In addition, we have raised funds to purchase and deliver our own food and our Board Chair, Carol Gilliland, Executive Chef of A Loveable Feast has prepared and delivered wonderfully fresh meals to families throughout our programs.
HOPE SOLUTIONS: What brings you hope about your work and the mission of Hope Solutions?
JOHN: Most of our people have endured unimaginable pain and stress. We work to build the fundamentals of home and social connection. I gain immeasurable hope watching them abide.