This month we spotlight Peter Plishka, co-chair Communications Committee.
How did your interest in helping the issue of homelessness begin?
It started over 20 years ago when my church was one of several organizations providing sack lunches for a downtown shelter. I was among 50 volunteers to begin with and I eventually took over managing the program. The effort consisted of purchasing many loaves of bread from the bakery outlet, shopping at a food warehouse for the makings, picking up a dozen banana boxes from the grocery, and setting up the assembly line for the families that came together as volunteers. Ultimately driving the load downtown and walking through the rows and rows of cots and gathering people, felt meaningful but also defeating in that the numbers never seemed to reduce between visits.
How did you connect with A Home?
I saw a listing in a newsletter for overnight shelter volunteers at Decatur First United Methodist Church, and signed up. I met Shelly Fine there. She and I became COVID walking buddies and my involvement grew with providing lunches, helping with the distribution of supplies, and finding a supplier for practical and cost-effective blankets. I was invited to join the board and deepened my commitment in that way. What part of being involved do you enjoy most? When I joined the board there seemed to be a need to help communicate the work the group was doing, as well as update our patrons and followers as to the greater issues surrounding homelessness. I partnered with Natalie Snedden in founding the Communications Committee, and we established a monthly newsletter that includes updates, personal profiles, general interest articles, and invitations to support the organization’s work.
Is there something from your background that makes this an especially important concern?
I have been a lifelong volunteer and am especially drawn to people or communities that seem underserved or misunderstood. I started in college, helping with a program that served mentally challenged individuals in outdoor activities, and later included pre-K tutoring for Hispanic immigrant families, sports coaching for refugee youth, and donating time for environmental advocacy.