Page 6 - Scene Magazine 45-06 June 2020
P. 6

  Did You Know?
     served three times a day at Full Blast in downtown Battle Creek with the help of a lot of staff, volunteers, and the South Michigan Food Bank. I learned this from Robert Elchert, a new (to us) resident of the area but as the execu- tive director of the SHARE Center his responsibility includes helping create, “... a community where all individuals are treated with respect, dignity, and are fully included in all aspects of social life,” (per SHARE Center’s website: This came about when Covid 19 came to our area unexpectedly, but the need for food couldn’t be ignored.
worked for a City of Chicago Alderman for about four years before the couple decided they’d like to live somewhere
a bit less frantic. The move to West Michigan happened when Robert was hired by the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. “I learned a
Not many people know about the SHARE Center or the resources it provides in our area. “Our funders can check out our Facebook page or the website to learn more about the ser- vices provided,” Robert said. “And you can learn what we need to cover those services.” He named several such as eliminating the barriers to food and a home, creating pathways so people can get the needed identification required for a bank account or a job, and learning about recovery.
Robert has a Bachelor’s degree from Portland State University in Internation- al Studies with a minor in Jazz Studies so he thought music would play a part in his life. His family is from northern Indiana, and he not feeling totally at home in Oregon, decided to move back to the Midwest to work on a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago at the School of Social Service Adminis- tration. There he learned about running a nonprofit dedicated to social work.
He met his future wife, Emily Brittain while developing an Environmental Action Group at the university. Robert
lot in that job... I got to know people and by the time I left I had a collection of names and resources in this area for my job here. It was a great job,” Robert said. After four years with United Way he learned about the position at SHARE Center and made the change about 18 months ago.
An initiative Robert hopes to develop in the future is what arts and culture can provide to their clients and what those clients can provide to the community. “I’ve experienced what happens when organizations and people collaborate,” he tells me. “There’s a lot of hidden talent at the SHARE Center.” Robert says they are beginning to work with Battle Creek Transit to get some of the art work done by clients displayed in buses serving the city. Some clients work with Leila Ar- boretum at the Community Garden, and Willard Library helped create a computer lab for the center’s clients. “I’d love to start a bucket drumming class here at
the Center... but it’ll have to wait until Michigan is open again,” Robert says. These projects are developed with the clients’ needs in mind and Robert tells me the way they discover those needs
is by developing relationships and trust between the client and staff of the center.
You can find Robert at the SHARE Center at 120 Grove Street. Call (269) 964-8133 or visit
T. R. Shaw Jr. Co-Founder / CEO / 269-209-5555 cell / Kathy Shaw Co-Founder / President / 269-209-9719 cell /
Did you know the SHARE Center is now providing more than three times the number of meals than they budgeted for 2020? Those meals are
resources to fix some of the holes in the safety net.” Those holes will, of course, require funding, “We always need more money,” Robert said. “We especially need unrestricted funds in order to cover the costs that our donors don’t always see.” In addition to Robert, the SHARE Center also has paid staff and volunteers who give of their time. ”I’d like to give a shout out to the staff who have been working long hours during this time,” he told me. “They are working at least 10 hour days ensuring people have what they need.”
Robert Elchert – SHARE Center
“I was really happy to see a number of the programs we developed at the United Way and brought to the Share Center were still working here,” he told me. “And seeing the generosity of this community tells me we can find the

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