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Lynne Sipiora, The Samaritan Inn

Meet Lynne Sipiora, executive director of The Samaritan Inn in McKinney, the largest residential program in Collin County serving the homeless. Sipiora took over the post nearly a decade ago, the week Hurricane Katrina evacuees arrived in North Texas. 

Sipiora is passionate about helping others in crisis. For 30 years, she has worked in not for profit management. She is also an author of the book "In Search of Motherhood," and she has experience, raising three children with her husband, Ken. 

We wanted to know a little more about Sipiora and she was gracious enough to answer some questions about herself, the Samaritan Inn and the communities it serves.

Dawn Tongish: Can you tell us about The Samaritan Inn?

Lynne Sipiora: The Samaritan Inn is the largest residential program in Collin County. We were founded 30 years ago as a 10-bed emergency men's shelter. Today we house over 200 men, women and children who are experiencing homelessness and provide all the resources they need to re-gain their independence.

DT: What are your duties at The Samaritan Inn? 

LS: I am the executive director, so I oversee all functions of our operations including volunteers, marketing, special events and programs. It is also my responsibility to raise the money needed to meet our annual budget of $2 million. 

DT: How did you become involved with the Samaritan Inn, why are you so passionate about the work being done at the shelters?  

LS: I began as a volunteer as The Samaritan Inn when I first moved to McKinney in 2000. At the time I was a stay-at-home mom, but prior to the birth of my children I had worked in non-profit management. In 2005, I accepted the position of director.

I am passionate about our work because I believe every person deserves a place to sleep at night and food to eat.

I know things happen, to all kinds of people, in all walks of life and it is society's responsiblity to help. Every day I see the difference our program makes in people's lives. They arrive broken and desperate and they leave with newfound confidence and the ability to re-build their lives. 

DT: Why do you work in the non-profit sector? 

LS: I've been called a professional do-gooder and I think that is probably true. I want to change a little piece of the world and working at The Samaritan Inn enables me to do that. 

DT: It can be difficult for any non-profit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat? 

LS: The Samaritan Inn is supported by thousands of individuals, as well as the business and faith community. We are also a United Way agency. People are very compassionate and generous and they want to help.

DT: How can the people of Collin County and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs? 

LS: The program of homlessness (nationally and in Collin County) is far bigger than people realize. In 2013, 2,677 qualifed people were turned away because they didn't have room for them. The Samaritan Inn is committed to solving that problem. Last spring we purchased 15 acres of land (30 yards south of our current facility) for the purpose of building a family shelter. 

It is a $7.5 million project and will truly "take a village." Our capital campaign kicked off in February and we need donations to make this happen. People are living on the streets and in their cars. We can't let that happen on our watch. 

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at The Samaritan Inn? 

LS: I have had the privilege of seeing so many people turn their lives around that it is hard to choose just one story. I handed a former resident a degree from Collin College after he had worked on it for two years. I watched a former resident come back and join our staff, telling people "if i can do it, so can you." I was there when a teenager, living with her family at the Inn, got a full ride to the University of Kansas. It is truly the best job in the world!

 

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at dtongish@yahoo.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.