WilliamSweeneyDEGREES: B.A. in economics; J.D., University of Denver

JOB TITLE: Treasurer and executive director, Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO)

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: Attending weekday evening services in the Crypt Chapel

What do you do in your role at BOHO? I manage all aspects of the operation of BOHO.

What is BOHO’s mission, and why is BOHO a unique model? BOHO (the name was chosen to echo “hobo”) provides day and night shelter to Boulder’s homeless residents in the facilities of congregations. Twenty-five Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations will open their doors to our programs in 2016, which will provide a cumulative total of about 50,000 days and nights of shelter to about 2,500 unique individual guests. Volunteers from these congregations also will provide a wide range of hospitalities that enrich the offerings to our guests: meals, choir concerts, clothing, and medicine distributions, as well as a whole lotta love. BOHO works in close collaboration with the Bridge House, a case management and transitional housing provider, and the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, an emergency and transitional night shelter provider. Both of BOHO’s collaborating partners have fixed-wall locations and professionally staffed programs. BOHO’s model provides additional shelter capacity in the Boulder community without additional capital investment. All of BOHO’s staff are presently or recently homeless, and our 25 staff members populate a significant jobs program. My own work is volunteer, and all of BOHO’s general, fundraising, and administrative work is performed by volunteers.

What do you enjoy most about your work? We are able to meet a significant community need by bringing together a wide array of services and assets that otherwise would not be available to help provide shelter for the homeless residents of Boulder. This allows more public capital to be directed to the provision of housing.

What are the biggest challenges you face? Fundraising. Fundraising. Fundraising. In that order.

What advice would you give to others who want to get involved in their local area? Follow your heart, and pitch in as a volunteer where you see a need.

How did your experience at Trinity help prepare you for what you do now? In high school, I had done some visiting of patients at mental health institutions through a parish youth group. At Trinity, in 1965, Chaplain Alan Tull called to my attention that Professor Winer was sponsoring a similar program for Trinity students, and I volunteered to visit chronic patients with a few other Trinity students at a hospital which has long since closed. My understanding of and compassion for this segment of our population grew. As the mental health hospitals emptied, I saw people whose plights I recognized on the streets. I switched my volunteering from involvement in the newly forming environmental movement to support of the population newly living on the streets. My parish church began to leave its doors open, and that gesture led to the formation of one of the nation’s first day shelters, Denver’s St. Francis Center. I continued to volunteer in support of this and other church-related agencies that served the poor. When BOHO was initially formed, some board members approached me and asked me to bring my experience to bear on forming and growing the organization.

Did you practice as an attorney earlier in your career? My career has been peripatetic. I never practiced law in the classic, firm-based sense but was in later decades general counsel, usually while also performing other executive roles. By the time I finished law school, my business career had gotten to where I couldn’t afford to restart at the bottom of the ladder in a law firm. I was running a 24/7 data center, including operations, data entry, and programming staff. In a sense, my J.D. has served more like an M.B.A.

Was there a professor who was particularly influential? If so, who was it, and why? John Woolley. I was active in the Jesters – theater – and started at Trinity in the same year Austin Arts Center opened with its new theater. That was also when John joined Trinity, and we became very good friends.

What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? Why? “Introduction to Theater” (as I recall the title). This was offered for the first time by Professor George Nichols in my senior year, and it tied together and extended my experience with the Jesters and has given me a solid foundation for presentations and events in business, churches, nonprofits, and community theater.