If it were not for Diane McWithey, Share might not exist today. At the time Diane was hired as executive director, Share was challenged to find a leader who would stay and make a success of Share’s programs which merely consisted of one shelter (Share House) and the Hot Meals Program; the annual budget was $107,000. Under her astounding leadership, the organization has grown exponentially to manage four shelters, a street outreach program, a supported housing program (called ASPIRE), a Summer Meals and a Backpack Program to feed hungry children, an Individual Developments Accounts Program, the opening of the Share Fromhold Service Center, the result of a successful $5.2 million capital campaign, a day center, and the opening of Lincoln Place, a 30-unit housing first apartment complex. Share’s budget is now over $6.5 million annually. During Diane’s tenure, Share has grown to become a major voice for the nonprofit sector in Clark County. By creating shared value, Diane has built a conduit between the non-profit sector and local business to foster the quality of life for the entire community, building truly meaningful and impactful partnerships as well as advancing positive social change.
When one of our staff was a new employee at Share, Diane said to her, “No one should ever die on the streets.” We have all heard her say that repeatedly over the years and believe it to be a driving force in her passion to help those in our community. Over the past 27 years, Diane has expanded Share’s programs and services in order to make that statement a reality. In the past two years alone, she listened with her heart, advocating and convincing our board of directors to open both a day center and to take on the staffing and management of Lincoln Place, a “housing first” apartment building, created to permanently house 30 of our community’s most vulnerable, those deemed most likely to die on the streets. Diane follows her heart and leads with strength to make a difference in our community.
Diane’s passion, vision, strength of character and dedication to the hungry and homeless profoundly impacts countless lives every year and she greatly inspires all who know her. Diane’s outgoing personality exudes genuine warmth and heart, coupled with her outstanding leadership capabilities, continue to enrich our community. Among Diane’s most important characteristics are vision and strength. As the needs in our community evolve and grow, Diane has observed, listened and acted. Thanks to her leadership, Share has grown over the years to add vital programs to address the needs of our community, and she continues to do so. For more than 27 years, Diane has excelled at this sometimes very difficult, challenging and time-consuming job because of her passion and belief in the dignity of all. Without her strength and leadership, our city would be much poorer in both compassion and the resources and ability to assist those who struggle.
Diane never shies away from the challenge to help steward our community. She is an individual who takes a stand for men, women and children whose plight is often unseen, or ignored, by the community at large. She inspires her team to do their very best. While setting strategic direction and goals for her staff, she respects their experience and expertise, allowing them to do their work without micromanagement. A true servant leader, Diane never seeks the spotlight for herself, but rather steps behind her staff to allow them to accept the accolades for the impactful work of Share.
We have had to significantly increase our staffing of Lincoln Place, as the population housed in that facility is inherently challenging to serve. Due to this unanticipated increase, we will face a budget gap of $100,000. A $50,000 donation would make a tremendous impact, enabling us to keep staffing levels consistent with the need of individuals who, otherwise, would be living on the street. Also, our emergency family shelters run out of grant funding by September of each year and the doors are kept open by the grace of private donations. The slide into homelessness can come quicker than you think: a loss of a job, a cut in hours or a medical emergency. Others struggle with mental health issues, a physical disability or substance abuse issues. And we believe no one can overcome life’s most difficult obstacles if they are hungry and homeless. This is why Share’s mission has persevered for more than 35 years: to lead the hungry and homeless to self-sufficiency by providing food, shelter, housing, education, advocacy and compassion through the strength of our community.
We are not alone in our admiration for Diane McWithey. Here are quotes by prominent community members: “Diane never loses sight of the vision of Share and continues to evolve the programs based on the needs of those less fortunate. She is an inspirational force for me,” shared Mark Matthias, prominent local business owner and philanthropist “If Share were a for profit business we would be lauding them with praise and awards for the sustainable nature of the growth and the success stories they have had for over two decades,” said John McDonagh, publisher of Vancouver Business Journal.