get to know our team
Meet Our Staff – Wes Suitt
“There is no such thing as a lousy job – only lousy men who don’t care to do it.” – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
This career path was one which you took up not too long ago. What brought the change?
In 2009, I was given the opportunity to assist River City Comprehensive Counseling Services, a then start up business, to develop and implement administrative functions. Jimmy Christmas and I had become friends and it was clear that he was building a product that was worth investing time and heart into. Jimmy had already begun building a great team of dedicated, motivated, and all-around enjoyable, human service professionals. I felt honored to have the opportunity to work with each of our team members, and still feel fortunate every day I get to come to work!
You helped to establish Focused Outreach Richmond, and are the Executive Director. What is it about the reentry population that drives your mission?
At the heart of Focused Outreach’s mission is to bring resources and opportunities to individuals who may not see a light at the end of the tunnel. Our experience is that many people in the reentry population want to rehabilitate but do not know how to get from point A to point B. Our job, as stewards of our community, is to work to make that connection. It is a very tough and sometimes unpopular venture, but the reward is great!
You also recently opened a home where you run a Residential Treatment Program for those reentering the community post-incarceration. How did you acquire the home?
Acquiring the home was an interesting process. It involved a span of every emotion from joy to frustration; excitement, to feelings of overwhelming responsibility. To make a long story short, having a great team of individuals who can sort through red tape, and whose hearts are in the mission, made it possible.
What have you found to be the most immediate need for those in your program?
The most immediate need for this population is access to safe and secure housing. Unfortunately, many returning citizens (those formerly incarcerated) have no choice but to reside in unsafe environments that are not conducive to rehabilitation. People, places and things are typically the main trigger for relapse into criminal behavior. If we can take care of those three things, or at least mitigate them, then our chance of making progress is greatly increased.
Operating a non-profit, especially one that requires some form of constant supervision or structure, I’m sure can be tiring. What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is having a team that can support me when my tank is empty. I gather strength and motivation from our team! It truly makes the difference and fuels my fire.
Who or what organizations in Richmond right now have caught your attention in what they’re doing for the community?
That’s a tricky question. As new kids on the block, everyone who has been doing this is impressive to us. Organizations have typically provided services for little to no reimbursement, and have done so for many years. Unfortunately, professional resources that can truly be effective do come with a price tag. Organizations like OAR (Offender Aid and Restoration), Boaz and Ruth, the Healing Place and many others have been able to maximize return on investment. We hope that we can be as successful and add to pot.