#givingback: Mark Eiler helps Open Doors

In our series #giving back at SalesPage, we highlight the different ways that members of our team are involved in their communities. One of our core values is passion, and we believe in the power of our people to be a positive force within their team and community.

August team feature: Mark Eiler

Our team member feature this month is Mark Eiler, a Business Analyst and one of the most senior members of SalesPage’s staff. Mark and his family have been involved in a variety of capacities over the years for the local Kalamazoo non-profit Open Doors.

Open Doors is an organization focused on helping people overcome homelessness through relationships, housing, employment, education, and sobriety. It began in 1970 as a coffee shop and drop-in center to help urban youth connect with community members. However, it pivoted to an overnight shelter when the founders discovered that many of these youth were experiencing homelessness. Since its inception, the organization has developed specialized ministries within the community. Open Doors focuses on helping homeless men, while its partner The Next Door supports homeless women. Mark’s focus is the Residence Community, a third ministry that works to provide community-based low-income housing.

Mark got involved 18 years ago through his friend Rick, a priest at St. Timothy’s in Richland and the director at the time. Since then, Mark’s entire family has been involved! Mark’s wife, Laura, was a board member for 6 years, providing oversight and specialized expertise to drive the mission forward. Mark and Laura continue to help with funding support and hosting tables at the annual donor luncheon. Mark says “My favorite part of the experience is the hometown nature. It is truly a local organization and after so many years, we know practically everyone there.”

Mark’s son, Ben, also partnered with Open Doors for his Eagle Scout project. With the help of a local church, Ben built a playground at the Parker Street apartments, one of the Residence Community properties. The church acquired playground equipment, while Ben helped placed the equipment and completed landscaping, benches, and more.

Open Doors: Residence Community

The non-profit work in the Residence Community revolves around acquiring and renovating residences. In many cases, community members donate homes or funds earmarked for new properties. Once acquired, volunteers help renovate and upgrade the properties to make them ready for tenants. Homes were the main focus when the Community was founded in 2004, which would be rented out one bedroom at a time with shared common spaces. In recent years, apartments have become more common, and are rented out to individuals or small families.

Prospective tenants apply for this housing directly, and many are promoted into the Community from shelters. Not only do these communities represent an improvement in living conditions, but also an expectation of increased responsibility. Residential communities have a formal contract, and residents can expect to pay something for everything. In addition to a home, residents receive ongoing support for critical issues including employment, budgeting, health care, and child care.

Foundations, community groups, churches, and individuals are the primary funding sources of Open Doors. For example, SalesPage is one organization that provides annual support. When discussing the greatest impact of his volunteering, Mark says that it has helped him to be more open to people’s needs and how to communicate with people from all walks of life.