My Friend’s Place, the only full-time homeless shelter in Strafford County, located in Dover, NH, is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Executive Director, Susan M. Ford. Susan has recently served as the executive director of the Homeless Center for Strafford County, and had previously worked with homelessness and low income programs as part of Community Action Partnership of Strafford County.
Susan’s hiring at My Friend’s Place completes a circle that was started 20 years ago, when Susan was a homeless single mother of two small children, and sought refuge at My Friend’s Place. She stayed for five months, and eventually got a Bachelor’s degree in Human Service Administration from Granite State College (at the time, called the College for Lifelong Learning). In one of her papers written to the college requesting to change her major to a self design of Human Services Administration, Susan wrote: "...and hope that my experience will allow me to make decisions that will truly help clients meet their goal of self-sufficiency. I also hope to reduce frustration and roadblocks for clients during their time of need. Often the policy makers are too far away from where the client is to truly understand what the client needs. If our goal is for everyone to have a chance to succeed, we need to eliminate roadblocks without creating new ones. We need to make services easier to access the goal of self-sufficiency. Reducing the bureaucracy that makes it difficult or impossible to access will help to do this." (2002)
Susan served on the board of My Friend’s Place for over 15 years, and replaces Bob O’Connell, who is retiring after serving as the executive director of My Friend’s Place since 1995. Before becoming executive director, Bob worked with a developmentally disabled adult program in Massachusetts, and was recognized as a distinguished Army veteran who served in Viet Nam. Bob is also a member of the Rotary, and has served in various community service programs and boards.
FX Bruton, president of My Friend’s Place board of directors, states “While we are very sad to see Bob go, he has certainly earned his retirement. He has taken this shelter from its humble beginnings, and created a true home for thousands of residents, whether on an emergency or a transitional basis; a shelter that is exemplary in its leadership, services, and which holds a place of pride in the surrounding community and beyond. We feel confident that by hiring Susan, we can keep Bob’s legacy of service and compassion going for years to come.”