We heard lots of stories about Dale Mullennix before he worked his last day on Friday, May 17. And although Dale is a man of awards and great accomplishments, most recently receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award from the State of North Carolina, what we heard most often last week was the advice he had given many about how to serve or how to live a better life.
Moore Place tenants recognized Dale’s contributions to their lives and he promised that like them, he will not focus on what he’s been, but rather on who he is now and who he wants to become.
WFAE interviewed Dale about his 25 years as the leader of Urban Ministry Center, from the founding of the organization in 1994, to the bold decision to embrace Housing First, and his amazing gift to bridge the economic divide in our community. In fact, his ability to build that bridge is what made his leadership so great, so crucial to efforts to end homelessness in Charlotte.
In a 2013 TEDxCharlotte talk, Dale talked about Meeting the World’s Deep Need with Deep Gladness, inspiring each of us to bring our gifts to solving homelessness. The talk highlights Dale’s openness to new ideas and innovative approaches.
The board of trustees sponsored a celebration and recognition of Dale’s 25 years to end homelessness, including an amazing video retrospective by Dale’s longtime friend and filmmaker Mark Atkinson. Early in the video you hear a story from volunteer counselor David Beers that defined Dale’s work: “err on the side of compassion.” When David wanted answers, Dale instead provided guidance.
A retirement party for Dale at the College Street Campus was heavily dominated by neighbors thanking Dale for ‘loving me when I was unlovable’ and changing their lives. But again we heard how Dale reassured staff, saying “you do not need all of the answers, the neighbors have the answers.” His encouragement to simply listen to people, respond with compassion, and take action is Dale’s legacy to all of us.