A word from our new Respite Clinician, Robert
I was born in Asheville, have lived here most of my life and currently reside in Leicester with my wife,
Ashleigh, and our four-month-old son, Theodore. I attended Asheville High School, UNC-Asheville, and
Western Carolina University where I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I am currently working
as an NC Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) for the Respite program. My role as an LCSW is to provide individual and group therapy to Friends staying in Respite, along with clinical consultation and support to staff and companions of the Welcome Table around issues of substance use and mental health more generally.
Although I’ve spent most of my life as what Thomas Merton called a “guilty bystander”, I remained more or less ignorant to the realities of homelessness and housing insecurity in our community until becoming involved with Amy Cantrell’s Zacchaeus House ministry in the summer of 2006. This experience led me to volunteer for Homeward Bound of WNC’s AHOPE Day Center in 2008. In 2010 I was offered a job at AHOPE and spent the next eleven years working for Homeward Bound, first a Certified Peer Support
Specialist and later as an LCSW once I had obtained my graduate degree in 2016.
While I love working as a social worker, I have found that many of the clinical roles available to this profession involve some degree of complicity with a “medical model” of treatment for addiction and mental illness which (while no doubt often individually helpful) ultimately attempts to reduce men and women into “issues” to be overcome in search of a more technically efficient society. I now believe that what originally drew me to this work was not so much “homelessness” as a social problem as it was encounter--the sense of authenticity (dare I say love) we find when we begin to depend on people and relationships more than scientific systems.
Having worked at AHOPE, I was already very familiar with the work of Haywood Street Congregation and had often come to share meals and community here. When I learned a position was opening that could put my clinical skills to use in an environment where individual people were prioritized over numbers and “outcomes” the choice was clear. As an adult convert to Christianity (with what I would call a broadly Anglican theology) I also felt a sense of calling here which might be better described as vocation than profession. I look forward to getting to know you all and am so grateful to be here!