March 28, 2017
Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
What would happen if we threw our rules out the window and started from scratch?
This is the question Audra O’Connell asked her staff at Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center’s Emergency Shelter when she began her tenure as Executive Director in 2016. The shelter, which serves teens, had a list of rules governing everything from behavior to dress, but Audra did not see how these rules were helping impact the broader issue of youth homelessness in Milwaukee. In fact, 6 months after trying to run the shelter without rules such as “no baseball caps in the house,” Audra and her team found themselves serving more youth than ever before.
“Dare to fail differently” is the model that Audra O’Connell lives by. Today on the podcast, she shares how a degree in Comparative Religion has helped her in surprising ways during her career working in housing and homeless services, the advice she has for young nonprofit professionals, and what she still hopes to achieve in her work. Says Audra, “In ten years, I don’t want to be in the shelter business…I want to be in the prevention business.”
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Learn more about Walker's Point Yoth & Family Center or access the Walker’s Point YFC 24/7 Crisis Line: 414-647-8200.
Audra also mentioned Pathfinders and Guest House of Milwaukee.
Click here to learn more about the work of Coordinated Entry in Milwaukee.