This time of year the cold, wet nights might present misery for Pasadena’s most vulnerable, but Union Station Homeless Services long has provided comfort with hot meals and temporary refuge, becoming the leading homeless services agency in the San Gabriel Valley.
With the help of more than 3,000 community volunteers, Union Station has evolved over four decades to coordinate with more than 40 social service agencies in an effort to end homelessness in the region. Not only do volunteers here serve hundreds of meals daily,
but the nonprofit also maintains five permanent supportive and emergency housing facilities in Pasadena.
None of this, of course, would be feasible without the dedicated volunteers and the expert board of directors leading Union Station’s steadfast mission to end homelessness. To lead that charge in the new year, the nonprofit has chosen Jim Moore as the chair of its board of directors for the next two years.
Sitting down to discuss his new position, Moore emphasized his passion to help individuals and families who have fallen into homelessness, and to uphold the core belief that every person deserves a life of dignity and a place to call home.
“I find it very rewarding,” said Moore, who works as a private banking manager for Wells Fargo, in a recent interview. “I feel like I am actively contributing to the good of society.”
Moore has been on the board of the homeless services organization for 6½ years and currently chairs all board and executive committee meetings and coordinates with Chief Executive Officer Anne Miskey.
The human services agency began in 1973 and has administrative offices at 825 E. Orange Grove Blvd.
With an annual budget of about $11.6 million, the organization is rapidly growing. During 2017 Union Station helped more than 1,750 people find shelter, housing and services, and provided more than 600 people with safe emergency shelter, according to its 2016-17 annual report.
“With our continued growth, our budget is increasing as well,” said Moore, who undertook some soul searching before agreeing to take the role as board president.
“I hadn’t really considered stepping up to be chair,” he said. “But we were going through so much in the way of transition, and I really enjoy working with, mentoring and coaching people. Did I think I could be helpful in that transition period? I gave it a fair amount of thought and agreed to take on what is ultimately a two-year commitment.”
He will stay on at the executive level through June 2021 to help with the transition for the next board chair.
Miskey, who joined Union Station as CEO last year, described Moore in an email as one of the best nonprofit board chairs she has worked with in her career.
“At the end of the day he is not afraid to make the difficult decisions — but always in the most careful, thoughtful and considerate way possible,” Miskey said. “He has a true love of community and for the most vulnerable and he demonstrates this by leading Union Station into being the best organization it can be. He is an inspirational leader — drawing people with him into making a difference. I can honestly say that I have every confidence in him — and am incredibly appreciative of his leadership and support for the organization and me personally.”
Miskey also described Moore as a thoughtful, kind person who approaches issues in a calm, measured way, noting, “He is an extremely caring, highly ethical person but he is also a strong leader and not afraid to stand up for what is right.”
Moore first learned about Union Station through his local church and later became more familiar with the organization when he was a quartermaster for his son, Patrick, in Troop 4 of the Boy Scouts in Pasadena.
“Troop 4 is the troop that sets up for dinner in the park for Thanksgiving dinner every year for Union Station,” Moore said. “So my son and about 20 scouts and I would be there every Thanksgiving, setting up and then tearing down all the pop-up tents and that sort of stuff.”
He joined the board as a private citizen when another board member was relocating, creating the need for a replacement. The opportunity came at the same time Moore was leaving his church’s board of directors and other roles.
Moore is a 1977 graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business, earning a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in real estate and finance. He enjoys the analytics of investor real estate and commercial real estate.
“Most of my career I’ve done real estate financing at banks or been involved in development,” Moore said.
He joined Wells Fargo in 2008 and is currently a private banking manager. Initially, he was responsible for the Pasadena office but now he’s in charge of Encino and Ontario as well.
“Banking has been going through a lot of changes and it’s a little different than when I first started, but I enjoy what I do,” said Moore, noting that his role as a banker has similarities to the work he does for the Union Station board members. “I really enjoy mentoring and coaching and working with people to help develop their skills.”
Moore said he has learned a lot about homelessness while being on the board and believes that it can happen to anyone.
“I think most of us make assumptions about how somebody fell into homelessness,” he said. “The longer I’ve been involved with this, the more I realize there are lots of different paths. Whether it was going through a divorce, loss of a job … a lot of it is the medical bills piling up when they had medical issues.”
People usually think of homeless services as giving a meal or bed for a few nights, but Union Station tries to work on getting people out of homelessness, Moore said. The nonprofit now provides a comprehensive range of supportive services designed to help people sustain themselves once they find housing, including employment.
“It’s getting them a roof over their head, getting them some meals, figuring out the cause of the homelessness and then some assistance with finding jobs and permanent supportive housing,” Moore said. “Ending homelessness one person or one family at a time is really what we’re looking to do.”
The biggest challenge in fighting homelessness is a lack of affordable housing, Moore said. Entry-level jobs, including working at a fast food restaurant for perhaps $15 an hour, don’t pay the rent, he said.
“It’s finding jobs that pay enough to support an individual or family and finding affordable housing which is constantly a challenge,” Moore said.
For more information on Union Station Homeless Services, visit unionstationhs.org.