Meet another member of South Florida's many-sided faith community. This week we're talking with Robin Martin, executive director of Hope South Florida and The Shepherd's Way shelter.
Q: Why is working with the homeless so important to you?
A: I wouldn't say that's what is so important to me. It's working with people who have a tangible need that our community can meet. Being able to be part of someone's life transformation is important to me. I want to inspire people to look at life and grow.
Q: What's the one most mistaken impression about the homeless?
A: That every person who is homeless is like the person on a street corner. It's not. It's a mom with young children who doesn't have a place to stay and a community to support her. During my childhood, when my parents got divorced, we lost our home, and for eight months we found ourselves living with friends. My mom had to return to the workforce during a tough economy. Many people in our community are just like that: mothers who are living place to place with their families.
Q: What's the hardest part of your work?
A: I have two functions: to cast a vision and to manage expectations. The harsh reality is that we're not there yet – ending street homelessness for families – because we don't have the resources. On any given day, 150 families are calling the help line, most of them living with other families or in a hotel or about to get evicted. Of those, 10 to 20 sleeping on the street or in cars. We can't provide housing for them all today.
Q: What will it take to fix the problem of 150 families a night?
A: We have a 10-year plan. It includes minimum wage, job training and policies and procedures and government. A lot of factors go into that. It's not just building more shelters. It's also about more affordable housing.
Q: How do you like to relax?
A: I spend time with my kids, or read. That allows me to leave the stresses of the day.
Q: What book have you been recommending lately?
A: "A Game of Thrones." It's brain candy.
Q: What's your favorite vacation spot?
A: My wife and I like historical places, like St. Augustine. And Vancouver is wonderful.
Q: Do you have any favorite TV shows?
A: I love "The Simpsons." It's well written, dry humor. But my favorite is "The Office." It takes relationships and pushes them to the extreme.
Q: How about favorite film(s)?
A: The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is up there.
Q: Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?
A: U2, Coldplay, Switchfoot, Jars of Clay. They have meaningful lyrics and soft rock.
Q: If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
A: (long pause) I would ask why he relies so much on us to reflect his love. Because we fail so much. It would be so much simpler if God were audible, if he stepped in to provide people food. But he chooses us to be his form of expression.
Q: Something most people don't know about you?
A: I spent three years in the army overseas. I became a Christian in a tent in Hungary.
Q: What one thing would you change about yourself?
A: I'd be taller. I'm 5-6 on a good day.
Q: Is there one thing you can't stand?
A: Hypocrisy. The idea that image is more important than substance.
Q: What's the most important thing you've ever learned?
A: That God loves me. Once I realized that, everything else didn't matter as much. And the things that should matter, matter more.
Do you know someone we should profile? Tell James D. Davis, Religion Editor, Sun Sentinel, at 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL. You may also e-mail him at JDDavis@Tribune.com or call at 954-356-4730.
More about Martin
More about Martin
Title: Executive director, Hope South Florida.
Other job experience: Radar technician, U.S. Army; program manager, business manager, director of Homeless Hotline, all for Broward Coalition for the Homeless.
Other community posts: Church-planting pastor, Evangelical Free Church of America.
Awards: Nominee, 2011 BankAtlantic Nonprofit Academy Awards; 2009 Changing Lives Award, Broward Outreach Center.
Education: Degree in business, Florida Atlantic University; master's degree in divinity, Trinity Western Seminary, Vancouver.
Personal: Age 34. Born in Miami.
Family: Married to Melissa, case manager at Hope South Florida. Three children.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun