The Mission to End Homelessness

. August 30, 2013.

Phil Arnold started his quest to end local homelessness when he was encouraged by a church member to participate in what would become an integral part of his life. Arnold and his wife, Julia, have been making an impact in the community through volunteer work since 1993 when he became a board member of the City Mission of Findlay. Twenty years later, Arnold now serves as the executive director of the non-profit organization, overlooking financial and administrative operations of the homeless shelter.

After retiring from Marathon Petroleum Corporation following a 31-year career, Arnold’s financial experience has had a significant impact on the City Mission. Increasing the organization’s budget from $45,000 to $500,000 dollars is no easy feat, but Arnold has helped do that since he began volunteering. His humbleness is evident when he says that it was all due to donations from the community. “We’ve always depended on the ‘kindness of strangers’,” says Arnold. “It’s principally the individuals who donate who make the difference.”

Since raising their two sons, Brendan and Chris, who are now raising families of their own, Phil and Julia have dedicated their time to giving back to the community. Julia volunteers at the Hancock Christian Clearing House. “People are more willing to give their money than their time,” says Arnold. “Go and get involved and find out what it’s like on the inside. It’s something we all need.”

The City Mission of Findlay is the only emergency shelter in the area, which the Findlay Police Department and other organizations depend on for assistance in sheltering and feeding misplaced individuals and families. Without the help of volunteers and donors, churches and civic businesses, the shelter would not be able to support people seeking help, Arnold says.

The non-profit organization helps in more ways than one. In addition to providing a warm place to stay, the board supports individuals with the resources needed to get back on their feet. Programs are tailored to educate and prepare them to find jobs and to be financially responsible and beneficial for them and the community. “The long-term solution is to spend more time with them to give them a firm foundation,” Arnold says. “That’s what we’re trying to do here, so that when residents leave, they can be successful.”

Arnold and the City Mission board are currently working on an expansion project that will meet the increasing demands for food and shelter. The properties surrounding the City Mission building are being purchased in order to make room for the $2.7 million development. They hope to break ground in late spring. “My little victories are when we find new support and resources,” Arnold says. “My job is to provide the resources to support these families.”

Something Arnold hopes for is that people who are passionate about volunteering will find what they are willing to put their blood, sweat and tears in. “There are a lot of worthy causes in this community,” says Arnold. “What I tell people is find something that really speaks to your heart.”

Fun Facts:
Children: Brendan, 39, and Chris, 33
Graduated From: Indiana University
Favorite Restaurant: Bellacino’s
Favorite Quote: “Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for.” St. Thomas Moore
Favorite place to vacation: Maui, Hawaii