Chuck Mayfield hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked as a machinist in a box factory. In 1997, his supervisor pulled him aside and told him he had a dream to start his own factory – in Green Bay, Wisconsin of all places – and he wondered if Chuck would be interested in coming along to help him run the plant. Chuck picked up the family and moved, and plugged into a local church that introduced him to Freedom House shortly thereafter. As a youth advisor, Chuck brought the youth group to the shelter to help paint, plaster, put up curtains, drop ceilings, etc., whatever else needed to be done. Then he personally started volunteering more, doing just about anything needed. He was hooked into the mission of the place and a few months later, he was convinced to quit his job at the plant and work full time for Freedom House, taking care of the building, the grounds, the vehicles, and anything else that didn’t require a “licensed” state approved contractor (which is MOST of the things that go wrong!).
Chuck’s do-it-yourself mechanic skills sure come in handy, but it’s his love of people and sharing his faith that make him indispensible. Chuck also drives the residents each Sunday to church services.
“When I first started working here, it was all about taking care of the building, yard and vehicle, but then I got to see some of the families and interact with them, and I knew this is what I was meant to do – to get to know the families, get them what they need, let them know there’s a way out of their homelessness and help get them back on the right track,” he said.
Like everyone else on staff, Chuck feels he was led to his position by the Lord and that’s what makes it so rewarding. “Helping our residents get back on the right path, helping them any way we can to get them back to school, get the parents a job, getting them back into being self sufficient. That’s what I like to see,” he exclaimed. “What better job could there be?”
But Chuck realizes it’s not the staff alone that makes Freedom House the success story it has become, but the combination of staff plus volunteers, churches and businesses coming together that really make it all happen. And that’s something the residents see, experience and respond to in a very positive way. “They come in and show residents there’s people out there who love them and want them to get back on their feet and going in the right direction. We can point them in the right direction, but it’s up to them to do it.” Chuck explained.
That loving care means a lot to people who by and large have been left out of society. “It means the world to them,” Chuck said. “It means security and hope and family – for many, this is their first real look at how a family acts. They’re awed when they see that we all take care of each other, if someone needs a ride somewhere we can give them that; if they need help, we can call in for help if we can’t provide it, like counselors, etc. And that puts them on the road to recovery,” he explained.
“I know it just means a lot, once they get in. At first they’re scared, nobody wants to end up in a shelter, but after they’re here a week or two, they know they made the right decision to come here, try to get things in their life back in order, to get back on their feet. It means a lot because I know when I move people out of Freedom House, they tell me they’re scared to be out on their own again, but I reassure them that we’re just a phone call away, our doors are always open, they can come and eat lunch with us, help out, come back and keep in touch – and they do! It’s just awesome.”