We’ve talked with all sorts of business owners around Kansas so far but we’re shifting gears a bit and turning to an organization that’s impacting thousands of lives every year.
The Topeka Rescue Mission has been a staple of the community for decades and helps support the homeless and impoverished throughout the area. Few people know the organization better than its executive director, Barry Feaker.
He found his way to the mission because he knew he was supposed to but it was an unexpected career path. After working in the mental health field, he was asked to come discuss the executive director job but didn’t have the experience of other candidates. Everything came together as God intended and he’s held the position for 34 years now.
We asked him to join the podcast to spotlight the work he’s doing in Topeka and also get some insight into the business side of running an organization of this size.
TRM annually shelters on average between 2,100-2,400 men, women and children every year thanks to 1,600 volunteers that contribute each month. Both of those numbers will be lower this year due to COVID as they’ve had to take a lot of health and safety precautions to establish priority sheltering to protect those that come in.
We’ll talk through all the challenges of 2020 and years prior along with what’s made the organization successful. There’s a lot to be proud of for Feaker and he shares a great story that captures what TRM is all about.
A few of the things we’ll get into from the business side on the show:
- Their grassroots approach to building the organization.
- Operation Food Secure
- How they manage all the volunteers.
- A truckload of failures during his career.
- Fighting human trafficking.
- What he’s most proud of.
- Lessons learned through the years.
Listen to the full episode with the player above or click on the timestamps below to hear more about Feaker and the Topeka Rescure Mission.
[1:21] – Background on our guest today, Barry Feaker
[2:53] – Why did he leave the mental health field to TRM?
[6:37] – Benefits and challenges for an organization like this.
[8:16] – How COVID changed funding.
[8:59] – Has the government tried to get involved at any point?
[10:54] – Every rescue mission is different.
[12:06] – How many people do you shelter each year and how COVID impacted that.
[14:14] – They’ve lost a lot of volunteers due to COVID as well.
[15:00] – Processes they use to manage these large numbers of people.
[16:47] – The process for homeless coming in.
[24:14] – Scary moments he’s had on the job.
[27:50] – Does he have a favorite failure?
[31:31] – The anti-human trafficking division
[33:45] – Human trafficking in Topeka
[37:07] – Is there a program he’s most proud of?
[40:43] – What do you wish knew early on?
[42:13] – Best way to get plugged into the Topeka Rescue Mission.
We’re a team. Not just 75 or 80 employees and a board of directors but hundreds of people in the community that are doing multiple outreaches.