Many leadership lessons learned from Haven For Hope visit

  • Published
  • By Randy Martin
  • 12th Flying Training Wing

The 12th Flying Training Wing’s leaders spent four hours at a homeless shelter Sept. 7 as part of a commanders’ off-site. The Haven For Hope provides a place of hope and new beginnings for more than 2,100 people at a 22-acre campus near downtown San Antonio.

“We are developing people,” said Col. Joel Carey, 12th FTW commander during an orientation with Haven for Hope’s president and chief executive officer. “We are here to help, to learn and to have a good time.” 

There were 35 officers, senior noncommissioned officers and civilians with several spouses on hand from the wing staff, its three flying groups and the maintenance directorate. Many traveled from the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo., and from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., to attend the two-day professional development session at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

“Col. Carey wanted to expose his leadership team to a unique perspective on leadership in challenging circumstances and to learn leadership from Haven For Hope's staff,” said Lt. Col. Jason Bianchi, 435th Fighter Training Squadron’s A Flight commander and the project officer for the off-site. “We wanted to learn leadership from Haven For Hope's staff and see it in action while serving the community.”

“You have to have a leader and our campus emerged out of Bill Greehey’s heart,” said Kenneth Wilson, Haven For Hope's president and chief executive officer.

Greehey, an accomplished businessman, and the San Antonio City Council sought solutions for Bexar County’s homelessness beginning in 2006. Haven For Hope opened in 2010 and offers its members, as residents are called, one-stop social services.

Haven For Hope has a reputation worldwide for its unique approach to homelessness. It has more than 100 partners and provides more than 300 different social services to a diverse community.

1The 12th FTW leaders toured a safe outdoor sleeping area for guests who need shelter and basic services. They saw a transformation campus with facilities for food services, childcare, dormitories, family living areas, a kennel and gym among others.

After the tour, Wilson organized two teams for a specially designed volunteer activity. One team played Bingo and the other handed out ice cream and other treats in the courtyard.

We want you to talk to these people and hear them as human beings, said Wilson.

A Haven For Hope member told one of the 12th FTW visitors about an estranged relationship with a daughter, a path in life that had detoured and a new opportunity for a job and spiritual growth. When the two high-fived and the Bingo game ended it wasn’t clear who had helped who more.

What you did will carry these people for a long time, Wilson said.

Before the off-site ended, 10 Haven For Hope leaders shared a stage and their personal stories with leadership advice.

“It was amazing experience, very moving, and incredibly insightful,” Bianchi said.

“We saw leadership from a completely unique perspective. We were impressed by the compassion of the staff for their clients. We were personally moved by our one-on-one interaction with the homeless and we felt inspired by the leadership insights from the personal experiences of Haven For Hope's staff.”

For more information about Haven For Hope, visit