Meet Tonya Davis, Associate Director of the Men’s Center. Tonya recently advanced to this position after serving as Admin. Assistant the Men’s Center and previously Residential Advisor of the Rescue Mission’s Transitional Housing Program.
Tonya’s commitment to the Rescue Mission’s goals, and contributions to its clients’ lives, are no surprise. “When able to, I have always given back my time and money to the domestic violence prevention community after my own personal experience with my children while living in Chicago.”
Tonya joined the Rescue Mission team 6 years ago. During 3 of those years, she worked as an On-Call Residential Advisor for the Women & Children Center (WCC) and Recuperative Care Unit (RCU) programs. “I was then offered a full-time position with the new transitional housing program that opened in spring of 2014, and I welcomed the opportunity and change,” she recalls.
At the Transitional Housing Program, she helped single adults and families work toward self-sufficiency—from finding employment to finding opportunities for clients with disabilities to engage with the community. Her role as Residential Advisor gave her the opportunity to provide direction, assistance, and support of day-to-day activities to both men and women at the Mission. Reflecting on the role, Tonya says, “I’m tough, but with a lot of LOVE. I expect more from them than they do of themselves. They have no idea that they are actually helping me more than I am helping them.”
That tough love led to a lot of changed lives in the Transitional Housing Program. “Day-by-day, with God’s work, they begin to transform from being hopeless, in tears full of fear and anger, to becoming hopeful with smiles of joy and trust again,” she says. While there, she also helped start a cooking class that introduced participating clients to healthier lifestyle choices, most of whom had not cooked a meal in a very long time due to homelessness.
Tonya’s journey to Associate Director of the Men’s Center expanded her interaction with Rescue Mission staff, clients, and external advocates. First, as Administrative Assistant, she supported work with Homeless Court, Badges, Lion’s Vision Eyewear, supplies, and outside government agencies to help clients. As Associate Director, she still interacts with clients but will search, obtain and implement resources for them that support their long-term goals of education, careers, and housing. “My responsibilities impact each man so I am accountable to God and our clients to ensure that I stay the course to a fruitful and productive end.”
While she loves a lot about her new role, she’s especially excited to have the opportunity to serve. “Nothing is too big or small,” she says. “It’s all about the clients and their needs. It doesn’t matter what your role. It’s the willingness to let the Lord use you for His glory, for the population we serve.”
Tonya’s been able to help and inspire many clients in her new role but one stands out in her memory. “I’ve been hosting Basketball Tournaments for a little over a year between our clients and outside organizations and churches with the help of our Volunteer Coordinator, Debbie Krakauer. We have a tournament for all major holidays. It is so wonderful to see guys who, upon coming into our program, were down and out, without any hope for a future, transform before your eyes and are laughing and smiling, and there’s camaraderie, even the guys that are sitting on the sidelines are enjoying the games and not complaining or worried about anything just for this moment. It’s rewarding to see them be normal and enjoy life as men should.”
From Residential Advisor to Associate Director, Tonya is committed to serving others and serving the Lord. “I love my work because I don’t work for the Mission. I work for the Lord at the Mission. So I am always striving to be better and lead by the example that Christ gave.”