SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Thirteen years ago SAMMinistries welcomed Navarra Williams as its President and CEO. Today, the organization is planning for his retirement and leadership farewell.
Williams grew up in a low-income household in the Washington D.C area. While he had received a scholarship offer to a Junior College in Baltimore, MD, a chance encounter with a representative from IBM changed his life. The words the IBM representative shared with Williams, then a high school junior, struck a chord — "IBM only hires graduates with a four-year degree and son we only take the best!" Williams went on to attend the junior college and then transferred to a university to finish his undergraduate degree. And by another fortuitous circumstance, Williams' first job out of college was in fact with the IBM Corporation.
After a 32-year business career that included time as President of Time Warner Cable, Williams sought a career change that would allow him to give back to the San Antonio community and help improve the lives of impoverished children. An acquaintance learned of his desires and shared that Bob Martindale had recently retired from his role as SAMMinistries' Executive Director. It was Williams' years of experience serving on nonprofit Boards, including a role as Vice-Chair for the San Antonio Greater Chamber of Commerce and as Board Chair for David Robinson's Carver Academy, that helped him land the job.
One of Williams' first priorities as SAMMinistries' President and CEO was to build a strong Executive Team to guide the organization in designing programs to meet the changing needs of the community. Williams' leadership team had their first major win with the development of SAMMinistries' Homeless Prevention Program which was launched to help keep vulnerable families in their homes by paying past due rent or utilities. During the program development phase, the team built a formula to analyze a household's financial situation for sustainability after a one-time intervention. Program metrics were set to ensure measurable outcomes for families assisted and to maximize the return on investment in safety net services.
Not long after SAMMinistries started its Homeless Prevention Program, the Federal Government issued the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) which allocated $1.5 billion for rent assistance, the backbone of SAMMinistries' existing program. Funds distributed through the ARRA were to be used over a three-year period and guidelines were set by the United States Department of Housing and Development (HUD) for use of funds. SAMMinistries initial ARRA award of $500,000 grew into $2 million over three years. During the initial three years of SAMMinistries' Homeless Prevention Program, 10,000 San Antonians, including 6,000 children remained safely housed. Through the end of SAMMinistries' fiscal year 2019, the program has kept 32,000 individuals, including 16,000 children in their homes.
As SAMMinistries' President and CEO, Williams led his team to substantively improve the service delivery and outcomes for the homeless families who called the Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC) home. Much of that work was supported by investments from Harvey Najim, with whom Williams built a genuine friendship over the years. During this time, Mr. Najim has become SAMMinistries' single largest donor and his generosity has supported renovation projects at the TLLC such as the upgrade and expansion of the library and the revitalization of the Children's Enrichment Center. Mr. Najim was also the catalyst for SAMMinistries' inaugural Campaign to End Child Homelessness which provides critical resources for the nearly 100 children who live at the TLLC. Mr. Najim also spurred the development of a licensed early childhood education and after school care program to offer nurturing and quality care for children at the TLLC while their parents work or attend school.
Also under Williams' leadership, SAMMinistries grew its portfolio of programs to become the largest provider of Rapid Re-Housing, transitional, and Permanent Supportive Housing in San Antonio; built the Veterans' Housing Stability Program; and returned the ministry's to its roots through a Street Outreach Program that seeks out and provides services to the homeless living on the street or in encampments.
"We are grateful for Navarra's commitment to serving our neighbors experiencing or facing homelessness," said SAMMinistries' Board Chair, Bill Waldrip. "Because of his leadership, SAMMinistries has grown to serve more than 4,000 people in need each year. And while we are sad to see him go, we are sure that he will continue to do good for our community even in retirement."
SAMMinistries hopes to formally celebrate Williams' farewell in conjunction with the Boots, Bowties & Bling Bash scheduled for August 29th.
SAMMinistries is an interfaith ministry that helps the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless attain self-sufficiency by offering shelter, housing, and services. For more information, please call (210) 340-0302 or visit our website at www.samm.org. Join our community – www.facebook.com/samministriesovercominghomelessness