GIFTS shelter names Burton executive director

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Thursday, April 19, 2012
— When Stephanie Burton moved to Janesville earlier this month, she immersed herself in helping others.

That impressed members of a search committee looking for a GIFTS homeless shelter executive director, and they recommended hiring her as the group’s first staff member.

The board of directors for the nonprofit men’s shelter unanimously agreed Monday night, said Paul Benish, who is the God is Faithful Temporary Shelter board vice chairman.

Burton will begin her part-time, year-round duties May 15. She will work out of an office in the Janesville Foundation building on North Parker Drive.

“I felt honored they would allow me to hold the position of executive director in this amazing mission they’ve founded,’’ she said.

She was among nine applicants narrowed to a field of four for interviews, Benish said.

“Her strengths lie in the areas of communication, crisis intervention, problem solving and organization, and those are the qualities we were looking for in someone to lead our organization to the next level,’’ he said.

Burton has a background in community service and has worked in Illinois as a victim/witness coordinator for the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. She also was a teacher and curriculum coordinator at St. Mark’s Lutheran School in Rockford, Ill., and as director of ministry support was responsible for coordinating volunteer activities for the 1,100-member congregation, Benish said.

During the short time she’s been in Janesville, Burton has become a volunteer at the YWCA Alternatives to Violence program and House of Mercy.

“She came to Janesville and immediately immersed herself to helping others,” Benish said.

The newly created executive director position is funded “by people of Janesville who have been very generous to the GIFTS organization,’’ he said.

Although Benish would not release Burton’s salary, he said the board is confident it can continue to pay her wages.

“Our hope is that through her fundraising and other efforts that it will grow to a full-time position,” he said.

GIFTS will complete its fifth season Sunday with a picnic for volunteers and men served through the shelter during the past year. The organization has grown from four churches to 27 and from 100 men served the first year to the largest year ever. Final numbers for this year will be known Sunday, he said.

“So far, everything that has been done has been accomplished with volunteer efforts and a dedicated board of directors,” Benish said.

Burton will become GIFTS official spokesperson.

“We’re going to look to her to help us get more churches involved in what we’re doing to help us with improving our volunteer training and to coordinating the organization,’’ Benish said.

Last updated: 8:07 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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