The Soapbox: Working with Adrienne Beloin has so truly been a pleasure, an honor, and a privilege

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

O P I N I O N

THE SOAPBOX

Screen Shot 2017 03 06 at 6.58.40 PM

Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.


In my efforts to make life better for our homeless neighbors, and by extension to make life better for everyone in this city, I know that I can be a hard person to work with. I have very little patience for things like incompetence or ignorance. When it comes to dealing with people who make this type of work about themselves instead of the people we’re supposed to be helping, I can be downright intolerant. My respect for others who do similar work is often hard to earn, and always easy to lose. As a result I’ve certainly made quite a few enemies among my former employers and colleagues.

When it comes to Adrienne Beloin I can honestly say that there is almost nobody whom I have ever more deeply and consistently respected for their knowledge, and for their tremendous work on our local homelessness crisis. I was admittedly skeptical when she was first chosen to become the new Director of Homelessness Initiatives for the City of Manchester (later changed to the Director of Housing Stability). What little I knew of her background at the time made me fear that she might be yet another out-of-touch desk jockey, with no real concept of the almost unfathomable struggles which are faced by our local homeless community on a daily basis.

I soon learned that I was wrong. I began working with Adrienne directly, meeting with her regularly, and collaborating with her on a wide variety of projects. I quickly discovered that she very much did understand these problems. In fact, when it came to being educated and informed about the implementation of solutions or best practices from a macro level, she knew quite a bit more than I did. This was knowledge which she was always more than happy to teach to me and others, thus allowing me to take a more active role in helping to shape and apply these macro-level approaches. Meanwhile, she was always eager to learn from me about the things which I knew more about at the local street level, from my 10,000+ hours of spending time with our local homeless community in the places where they live.

We didn’t always agree on everything, of course. Yet when we did disagree we were able to settle our differences both reasonably and respectfully. We shared the goal of wanting to do what was right, even if that meant admitting and accepting that we were the one who was wrong in the first place. At various times, we have both been the one who had to say “You were right, and I was wrong.” Which from my own admittedly unique perspective of the world, is sincerely one of the biggest compliments that I could ever say about someone. We made each other better, and she definitely made this city better. Both through her extensive knowledge as a subject matter expert, and through her absolutely amazing work as a city director.

I know there are many people who are expecting me to say harsh things about the elected leaders who have made it so that Director Beloin will no longer be able to continue with her fantastic work in this city. I’m not going to do that. I learned long ago that there is no sense in wasting time trying to make people look ignorant, foolish, or egocentric if they’re already doing a perfect job of that all on their own.

Instead I will simply encourage everyone to watch what was actually said about this, on all sides, during the most recent meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. This can be viewed in the “on demand” section at www.manchestertv.org starting at a timestamp of around 2:04:00. While on a personal note, I’ll simply add that if I was ever treated like that by any group of “bosses,” especially during a public meeting, then they would most assuredly find a notice of my resignation on their desks. Which would likely be discovered in the form of a tightly coiled little brown pile.

Working with Adrienne Beloin for well over a year now has so truly been a pleasure, an honor, and a privilege. On a personal level I am deeply saddened that we will apparently no longer be working together on the problems of homelessness in Manchester. On a professional level, I am deeply saddened for the local homeless community, and for everyone in this city. Adrienne embodied what was by far our best chance at seeing significant long-term improvements in addressing the ongoing crisis of homelessness in Manchester. I have absolutely no doubt at all that her absence will make the problems of homelessness very much worse, for all of the housed and unhoused residents of this city, for many years to come. And it is only the smallest of consolations to also know that the people who made this happen will eventually have to answer for their terrible mistake once they try to get themselves reelected in November of next year.

I will forever remember Adrienne as being nothing short of a true hero in this city. One of the very few heroes that we have ever had. And one which we probably didn’t truly deserve, given how loudly ignorant so many people in Manchester often are when it comes to the problems of homelessness. Yet – at least for a while, we were somehow lucky enough to have her working for us anyway. Working so diligently, and so knowledgeably, and so effectively, for the good of us all. I’ve said in the past that upon full review of her experience, education, and track record, she is easily on par with the kind of people who advise about homelessness at a national level. So I will certainly not be surprised at all if that’s where she ends up next. I am as deeply grateful and appreciative for whatever time we did get to have with her working for this city, as I am disappointed to see that such a time is now coming to its end.

For those of us who continue to work on these problems in Manchester, she will be deeply missed, for a very long time. For everyone else, whether or not you’re actually able to comprehend or appreciate the significance of this loss, you too have just lost a real-life local hero. And I can confidently assure you that the horrible results of this loss will become increasingly and undeniably apparent to everyone over the ensuing months, as well as for many years to come.

“A hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people. A hero to me is someone who saves people, and who really deeply cares.” – Debi Mazar


Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Comment below using our DISQUS app. Got issues of your own? Thoughtful prose on topics of general interest can be submitted for consideration to publisher@manchesterinklink.com, subject line: The Soapbox.

Subscribe Now and Never Miss Another Thing!

About this Author

Dam Wright

"Dam Wright" is an independent consultant for homeless initiatives in Manchester. He specializes in outreach, aid, and advocacy for our local homeless community. Along with other duties, such as event management, educational programs, and the refined management of homeless facilities and public policies regarding homelessness.