In the house

Gloria Rodgers

Photo By Tom Angel

Changing tenants’ lives is the goal of the Esplanade House, but now its residents are seeing some changes around them: a new director and a new facility. Gloria Rodgers, program operations director, has worked at the Esplanade House for six months, having taken over for longtime director Mickey Taylor. The facility is part of the Community Action Agency of Butte County and provides safe transitional housing for homeless families. It moved last month from a former motel on The Esplanade, where it had been since its beginning in 1991, to a comfortable apartment complex on East Shasta Avenue that was built amid controversy, as nearby residents complained that a shelter would hurt the neighborhood. It serves 24 families, twice as many as the old facility. Rodgers, the first director to take on the long-term goals of the new facility, wants to develop the “phase II” apartments to help the program’s graduates improve their chances for success.

What made you want to take on this position?

When I came and met the folks who worked here, it just seemed like a good fit for their needs and my skills. I’ve worked in nonprofit agencies for years.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

It’s such a diverse position. It’s a little bit of program management, a little bit of the people skills, counseling and working with families. It’s a little bit residential management; it’s a lot administrative. It’s a challenge to wear that many hats.

How do you plan on improving the Esplanade House?

I’d like to make sure we’re able to maintain the good programs that they have and to provide the services to a larger number of people. One of the things I’d like to add to the program is more youth programs and after-school activities to help keep the kids active and healthy and safe.

How is the new facility doing compared to the old one?

It’s doing well. Everyone is just ecstatic because it’s clean, it’s bright, it’s new. It’s easy to take care of it. It’s a great place to be. It’s a little quieter and a little safer.

You obviously like helping families and kids. Do you have any kids of your own?

I have lots of nieces and nephews. I don’t have any children of my own. We did foster a group home for a while, so I have a lot of foster kids that I keep in touch with.

What’s it like working with the kids?

That was one of the attractions for me. I’ve always loved kids. It’s great to see them blossom as they live here. It’s a big part of why I took the job.