Often it can be difficult for us to imagine a life outside of the one we live—especially a life filled with struggles, circumstances, or even life-threatening illnesses that we don’t understand. Clare Housing is an organization that “provides a continuum of affordable and supportive housing options that creates healing communities and optimizes the health of people living with HIV/AIDS.” Clare Housing’s residents find a home in one of the organization’s assisted living buildings or receive subsidized rental assistance. The organization has seen time and time again that once someone is stably housed, their health and life will begin to change for the better.
Mark Bishop’s (Kimley-Horn Twin Cities) involvement with Clare Housing began rather unconventionally. Back in 2006, while doing work in Kimley-Horn’s Northern Virginia office, he extended his trip through the weekend and reached out to a few friends in Washington, D.C. to find a place to stay. Instead of a hotel, they recommended he stay at a hospice house for homeless men and women suffering from HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.
“That weekend was a life-changing experience for me,” says Mark. “My on-going shift work to the [Northern Virginia] office meant I had a chance to spend more time at this hospice facility over the next several months. Really for the first time in my life, I was developing relationships with people of different ethnicities, statuses, and life experiences.”
Inspired by his time spent in Northern Virginia, Mark sought out a similar organization in Minnesota to which he could volunteer his time. When he found Clare Housing, he discovered a care home only five miles from our Twin Cities office. He started cooking dinner a couple times each month and began spending time with the people who lived there, helping with yard work and other projects as needed. He brought his family with him, creating such strong relationships with the residents that some older women who lived there treated his kids like their own grandchildren.
Mark also stumbled into an unexpected way to get his coworkers involved. “Every time I cooked dinner, I’d bring in a Crock-Pot into the office to make the food during the day. Needless to say, the smell of pot roast or pork chops cooking all day got people pretty intrigued.” After discovering the purpose behind the Crock-Pot, other employees asked about volunteering with him. From yard work to visitations to dinners and beyond, more and more Kimley-Horn employees joined Mark in his efforts with Clare Housing.
In addition to cooking dinners, helping at the houses, and organizing events, Mark serves as chairman for the Clare Housing board of directors. Throughout his involvement, Mark has been so grateful for the years of funding the Kimley-Horn Foundation has provided to the organization. This grant money has been used to buy supplies, maintain the houses, and provide resources for the staff to repair or replace many items.
With the help of Mark and the Kimley-Horn Foundation, those in need of the resources Clare Housing provides now have nice places to call home.
More information about Clare Housing can be found on their website, www.clarehousing.org.