Take a walk with Rogue Retreat’s Co-Founder and Executive Director.
When Chad McComas refers to walking with people experiencing homeless, it’s not a metaphor. Rogue Retreat’s Co-Founder and Executive Director knows many of our participants by name and has heard first-hand their stories, struggles, and successes. This practice of listening and paying attention is the premise behind the Rogue Retreat’s approach — to empathize, empower, and meet people where they are with the services they uniquely need.
“Walking a mile with the homeless has changed my thinking and helped me build empathy.”
Why Homelessness, and Why Hope?
“I had much to learn when I felt called to work for homeless people. I had to let go of many preconceived ideas.”
Chad McComas helped start Rogue Retreat in 1998 with a team of people whose mission was to provide a “retreat” for those struggling with addiction recovery. The first years for Chad were spent listening, learning, and evolving the way the organization helped those struggling to find their own stability and self-sufficiency in Medford, Oregon.
In 2006, Rogue Retreat’s mission evolved to create opportunities for homeless people to have hope. Why homelessness, and why hope? Because Chad had listened and decided that helping those in recovery wasn’t enough. There was more to be done.
He realized that the organization needed to go “upstream” to address the many factors that lead individuals to drug addiction and/or homelessness, such as mental health challenges, loss of income, loss of family, domestic abuse, and so much more.
Chad and Rogue Retreat were looking for a way to deliver hope so that people could begin the process of restoring their lives.
The “Well of Homelessness”
“When homeless people are provided access to showers and laundry, get their birth certificates back and an ID, many are able to get jobs and begin to rebuild their lives one paycheck at a time.”
Chad describes homelessness as a well. It doesn’t matter if you tripped, jumped, or got pushed in. Once you are there, you need help getting back out.
Often, people in the “well of homelesses” have lost the ability to take care of themselves. Their relationships and financial stability are gone. They have no support system, and they need someone to give them a hand-up out of the well, so to speak. They need to be rescued. They need guidance and support. This is where Rogue Retreat comes in.
Listening Ears and Messages of Hope
“When someone experiencing homelessness is welcomed into a safe, organized program with case management services, good things happen.”
Under Chad’s leadership, Rogue Retreat has grown from a 5-bedroom recovery home in 1998 to having the capacity to serve over 500 people each night in Jackson and Josephine counties. Participants in the programs that Chad helped pilot receive more than shelter for a night (though we know that’s an important piece, too) — they receive listening ears, wrap-around supportive services, and messages of hope from Chad, other participants, and our community team.
Chad McComas and his wife, Debi.
– Chad McComas, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Sharing Rogue Retreat’s Message
Today, Chad serves as an executive director with a different kind of schedule. Yes, his days are booked with meetings just like any organization’s leader, but he also makes time to talk with the people who visit him. These are people from his church, participants in Rogue Retreat’s programs, businesses who want to get involved, or donors who want to hear the latest news about Rogue Retreat’s programs. Chad is leading tours at shelter sites, sharing Rogue Retreat’s message person-by-person, and spreading messages of hope with little pop-open cards for all.