Bob Goodrum has a place to live, food to eat, and clothing to wear, but the majority of the people he has assisted have gone through a point in their lives without that security.
The Greenwood resident has spent his career working for non-profit organizations whose aim is to make life better for people who are struggling with homelessness, poverty or addiction.
His path to that work started in college, when his career goal was initially to own a restaurant. He decided instead to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies, after which he attained his master’s in counseling psychology. He said his change in focus led him to ask himself deeper questions of life’s meaning. The answer, for him, was working in non-profit organizations to make life better for others.
“It was the feeling of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, what I needed to do,” Goodrum said.
Now the executive director of WellSpring, a shelter for homeless families in Martinsville that also serves several surrounding counties, he is 32-years deep in his life of service. Throughout that time he has worked with numerous organizations, including The Social of Greenwood, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Starfish Initiative, Chrysalis Academy, United Way and the Lighthouse Mission.
As with Wellspring, his work at Lighthouse assisting the homeless was among the most challenging of his career. He said many of the obstacles he faced there involved a lack of funding after 9/11, as many were donating to other organizations.
“We had to lay off a number of very dedicated people,” Goodrum said. “So many folks at that point gave to organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, our donations reduced drastically. For those of us left it was a lot of hours. (The hardest part was) to tell people doing a phenomenal job we had to let them go because we didn’t have the funds to pay them. It’s not an easy task.”
As the organization’s executive director, he oversaw the housing of over 100 homeless men with a variety of backgrounds when it came to education level and substance abuse issues.
“Some of the stereotypes were true, (people had) issues with drugs, alcohol, mental illness, but we are a recovery program,” Goodrum said. “Some people made bad decisions, but for others life just happened. They finished high school and got minimal jobs, were able to get their heads above water, but then there was a contractor’s loss, or an injury happened, and they didn’t have much savings to pay the rent.”
He said treating each person as an individual and helping them make better decisions has proved to be a winning formula for many of the transient people he has encountered. At WellSpring, for example, he says there are two forms of housing: emergency housing, which is free and available for 30 to 90 days, and transitional housing, which is far below market value and available for two years.
He estimates 80 percent of traditional housing residents went on to permanent housing, while 70 percent of emergency housing residents went on to either traditional housing or permanent housing.
His success and dedication has not gone without recognition. Goodrum has been named the Morgan County Community Foundation Non-Profit Staff Person of the Year. In September, he was honored in front of more than 57,000 people by the Indianapolis Colts and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield as an Anthem Angel for his lifetime of work in non-profit organizations around the Indianapolis metropolitan area.
“I’m honored,” Goodrum said. “I don’t do what I do for accolades or plaques on the wall, but it’s encouraging for (people) to acknowledge me for what I’ve done.”
WellSpring Board Chairman Jim Wisco has worked with Goodrum since he joined the board, and says his attitude and experience have kept him successful in non-profits for so long.
“He’s an asset to have in the Martinsville community,” Wisco said. “He’s a strong leader, he’s diligent…and does that with such a great attitude and humility. He’s more than experienced and qualified. He’s capable of meeting with prospective donors, filling out grant applications, and meeting requirements of agencies like United Way. (He helps with) boots-on-the-ground assistance with families, trying to help people get education, job applications, drug treatment…he’s an all-encompassing sort of guy and we’re lucky to have him.”
“To be such a positive presence and come from a place of genuinely wanting to help people is a remarkable thing the world could use more of,” Wisco added.
United Way of Johnson County Executive Director Nancy Plake said Goodrum assists with the organization’s No Place to Call Home initiative, which works to provide families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless find stable housing.
“Bob is a very compassionate individual,” Plake said. “He is compassionate for the individuals he is serving. He has a love for service and a love for his community and whatever he does he will put 110 percent into.”
Along with assisting homeless people, Goodrum set up social events for the elderly with The Social of Greenwood and paired impoverished youth with mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“The majority of young people in that program came from households in poverty,” Goodrum said. “With that comes the phone being disconnected, so it’s challenging for a Big to reach out and get ahold of them. We educate Bigs on the roles of poverty versus the middle class…It’s challenging and rewarding. Seeing young people get the experience they may never have had if a Big Brother or Sister was not in their life is the most rewarding.”
WellSpring Director of Community Engagement David Maurer has known Goodrum since they met in high school more than 40 years ago. He says Goodrum’s success is due to his going beyond what is asked of him.
“I think it’s very evident this week,” Maurer said. “There were needs that came about at the WellSpring Center. He was supposed to be on vacation and he is just now leaving for vacation. He’s just had an essence as being executive director, having intuitiveness about him that is very professional.”
Goodrum says over the years he has assisted others plenty, but his work has also taught him an important character trait: gratitude.
“You get extremely grateful,” Goodrum said. “Life is not easy for any of us, but I have choices in food and clothing. I define poverty as a lack of choices. I’ve been blessed to have options.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About Bob Goodrum” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
NAME: Bob Goodrum
CURRENT JOB: Executive director, WellSpring.
Morgan County Community Foundation Non-Profit Staff Person of the Year
Indianapolis Colts and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Anthem Angel. This award is given to "community members who have been ‘First Respondents’ in outstanding service to the community through their civil or public service profession."
Director of development at Good News Mission-
Executive director at Lighthouse Mission
Program director at Chrysalis Academy
Mentor Services director at Starfish Initiative
Chief program officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters
Executive director at The Social of Greenwood
MEMBERSHIPS: Certified Volunteer Administrator, ordained minister through American Evangelical Christian Church, certified life coach, United Way of Johnson County volunteer.