By Emily Currie
There will be a changing of the guards at Greensboro’s Interactive Resource Center on June 30, when Liz Seymour, cofounder and executive director, steps down.
The IRC, located at 407 East Washington Street, is a day center for Greensboro’s homeless where they can escape the snow, rain or heat. They can receive mental health counseling, take a shower and do their laundry. The IRC also provides housing assistance, job readiness training and placement, and medical care.
While the IRC and the plight of the homeless are dear to Seymour, she says it is time to let someone else take the reigns.
“I actually made the decision about nine months ago”, said Seymour in a phone interview. “I was reading about something called Founder’s Syndrome and how the skills for starting (a nonprofit) are not necessarily the right skills for keeping it going.”
Seymour, who works 50–60 hours per week, feels that she must step aside in order for the organization to grow.
“I never want to be that person who’s holding the organization back”, said Seymour. “I have a feeling that there’s somebody out there who will love the IRC and help take it to the next level.”
Seymour has served as the executive director for five years and likens her journey to teaching a child to ride a bike.
“I’m sure you’ve had the experience of teaching a child to ride a bicycle. You walk beside them and hold their hand. You’re the only one keeping them steady,” said Seymour. “Suddenly, you’re running to keep up, but there comes a moment when you have to take your hand off the bicycle and let it go free.”
Although Seymour is vacating her position, the IRC’s fight to help the homeless will continue.
“We have folks that are less fortunate and we give them the tools they need to regain what they lost”, said Jenny Hudson, the IRC’s office manager. “We help them get employment and housing.”
Hudson started out as a client, became a volunteer and then moved into her current position. She is “Exhibit A” as a demonstration of IRC’s goal to help the invisible become visible again.
“You’re going to be treated as somebody and not just a number when you come here”, said Hudson. “We’re a community within a community. We’re going to walk with you until you are done with your journey and you are where you want to be.”
Tyrone Powell, who has been homeless for a number of years, is both a client and volunteer for the IRC. Powell cuts right to the chase when expressing what the IRC means to him.
“Just having a place to wash your face instead of having to scuffle to find somewhere to wash your face in the morning is a blessing, “said Powell. “Without this place, we’d be lost.
“It’s cold when it’s 37 degrees. You’ve been outside all day. You have to stay outside all night and have nowhere to go. It’s really rough.”
Despite the persisting problem of homelessness in Greensboro, Seymour is proud of what the IRC has accomplished.
“I’m really proud of how rapidly the organization grew,” said Seymour. “We’re in this together. I hope we attract enough support that we can continue to grow.”