Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh is excited to announce the appointment of Kathy Johnson to serve as the executive director of Oak City Cares, a new comprehensive, coordinated approach to making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in Wake County.
For over 20 years, Johnson had a distinguished career at InterAct in Raleigh, where she served in multiple roles, including two stints as the interim executive director, associate executive director for resource development, and associate executive director for programs and services. Most recently, Johnson served as executive director for Pendleton Place in Greenville, SC.
“Kathy’s combination of skills and experience couldn’t be more suited for her role as executive director of Oak City Cares,” said Rick Miller-Haraway, Catholic Charities Raleigh regional director. “In addition to her extensive experience as a nonprofit agency executive, Kathy’s compassion and undying commitment to social justice will make her a strong advocate for guests of Oak City Cares.”
The Oak City Cares project has been a long time coming. In 2014, the City of Raleigh and the Raleigh / Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness chose Catholic Charities to operate the Oak City Outreach Center as a temporary way to provide food on weekends for the homeless population, until a more comprehensive solution was identified.
In 2014, Wake County and the City of Raleigh committed to developing a permanent multi-services center for people who are homeless. In 2015, Catholic Charities was selected by the County, the City, and the Raleigh / Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness to operate this center. Catholic Charities subsequently created Oak City Cares to coordinate multiple services from Wake County nonprofits and Wake County Human Services in one central hub. Wake County and the City of Raleigh have provided $10.5 million to purchase and renovate a former warehouse building located at 1420 South Wilmington Street to serve as the location for Oak City Cares.
Beginning in February 2019, Oak City Cares staff will coordinate services offered by human service professionals, medical providers, and other specialists from multiple partners at this downtown center, thus improving the stability and self-sufficiency of individuals and families served.
“I was intrigued by this position because of my previous involvement in homeless services in Raleigh. It was exciting to see that this was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it,” Johnson said. “My whole career has involved working collaboratively to advocate on behalf of people who are marginalized and often misunderstood. I want to help people understand the barriers for people experiencing homelessness and engage the community to be a part of the solution.”
Oak City Cares builds upon the model of compassionate care and connection demonstrated at the Oak City Outreach Center near Moore Square. Since 2014, the center has served 1,200-1,800 meals each weekend in collaboration with the City, the Raleigh / Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness, private funders, and the generosity of more than 70 volunteer organizations and faith communities.
“Our goal is to be more effective in connecting people with the services that will help people secure housing, find employment, improve health, and become valued members of our community,” said Lisa Perkins, Catholic Charities executive director.
In addition to weekend meal distribution, Oak City Cares will provide more comprehensive services for people experiencing homelessness including: coordinated assessment and connection to housing assistance and community resources; on-site services to help secure medical, mental health and substance abuse care; weekend meals for people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity; and a welcoming and compassionate place with laundry, showers, computers, and phones.
“I am excited and enthusiastic about working for Oak City Cares and building partnerships to address needs in our community,” Johnson said. “We are so fortunate to have such a strong network of homeless service providers in this community. I look forward to working collaboratively with those partners to create a central hub where we can all work together to end homelessness completely in our community.”
A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility where Oak City Cares will be housed is taking place on Wednesday, June 20th at 9:00 a.m. For more information about the Oak City Cares program, please visit www.CatholicCharitiesRaleigh.org/Oak-City-Cares.