Equipped with 25 years of experience in children and family services, Chad Patterson, executive director for the Crisis Assistance Center lends a helping hand to Montgomery County residents in need.
The nonprofit agency was established in 1981 and offers assistance to residents who experience a financial crisis. Patterson, who specializes in leadership development and organizational change, joined the CAC in 2014 after a two-year stint as director of a Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services group home in Itasca.
Patterson also operates Chad L. Patterson & Associates, which offers personal development and leadership training. In addition, he serves on the Montgomery County Homeless Coalition and Conroe Noon Rotary Club boards of directors.
What is the Crisis Assistance Center?
Our vision is to offer hope for people in crisis. A lot of people in our county don’t have any margin, so if they have any hiccups in life like a flood, a spouse dies or they lose their job, then they have to choose between putting food on the table or paying bills. We are a safety net when people experience those crises. We give them rent assistance, utility assistance, food and clothing and then even workforce support and educational support to help them stay on their feet.
What are the most common needs you see throughout the county?
Most pressing right now are the weather-related emergencies that we have had. People lose their dwellings to floods; that is pretty devastating for people. We are a part of a countywide network through the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management that helps assess damage and then tries to offer needed services.
Day to day, we see a lot of working poor that experience some sort of crisis that throws [off their] equilibrium, and they choose between putting gas in their car or putting food on the table. We have had an increase in just helping people with utilities and rent. Rent is probably our biggest service. We are seeing people lose their jobs like in the oil and gas field, and after they have exhausted any savings they had or their family support, they come to us needing help making it through that transition.
How do partnerships with other nonprofits help local residents?
We started a program here called Hand Up. Through the United Way and partners like Entergy, Woodforest Bank, First Methodist Church Conroe, Workforce Solutions and Volunteers of America, we have a collaboration that focuses on self-sufficiency.
Not too many agencies can be a one-stop shop for every need; we are always stronger together. We all compete for funding so if we work together we can leverage not only our strengths but also our resources. Ultimately, that is what is best for the client because it keeps the client from having to go to 10 different places [for help]. A lot of the funders also want to fund agencies that are working together.
What goals do you have for the organization moving forward?
We are considering [a shift to] an assistance ministries model much like Interfaith of The Woodlands—meaning we are looking to potentially build an assistance ministry that has more church partners.
We have three churches that work with us now, so we provide the [overhead]: the staffing, the expertise, the tracking and the financial piece. They [bring their] time, people and some funding. It also gives the churches freedom because they can’t take care of all that [overhead] every day at their office. That is not what they are geared to do.
How can the public become involved in your organization?
I call it time, talent and treasure. You can come weekly and serve in our food pantry, but [typically] we need volunteers when we have events. Then funding—we need resources. People give their treasure, so we get money from fundraising events, and we also have individual donors [who] give. It takes that whole approach to really sustain what we try to do.