Homeless Shelter Councilman Gives Anchorage Tour of Brother Francis Shelter
Nearly twenty years after joining the Brother Francis Shelter advisory council, the plight of Anchorage’s homeless still gets to Tom Kron.
"You see 230-plus people sleeping on the floor with nothing,” said Kron, choking up at the thought. “They’ve got all their stuff in a plastic bag."
As chairman of the council, his position is more than just a title: He’s one of the driving forces behind Alaska’s largest homeless shelter.
"Our objective is to end homelessness,” Kron said. “But, the reality is, there are always going to be homeless people among us."
At its most basic, his job entails making sure the 230-person facility has everything it needs to care for the physical and emotional needs of its residents.
Today, Kron is giving tours of the shelter, showing visitors exactly what that means.
Besides separate men’s and women’s sleeping quarters and a large dining area, he points to offices where residents can meet with case workers, a computer lab where they can work on resumes and search for jobs, a room filled with spare clothes, a laundry room and a lock room where they can store their belongings in safety.
But Kron’s work for the shelter also brings an emotional tie to every man and woman who walks through Brother Francis’ doors.
"Think about what you and I have at home, and it's not fair!” Kron said in the hallway outside of the men’s sleeping room. His voice caught. “It drives you to want to help."
His commitment to the homeless runs in the family. His grandson, Cody, has been coming to the shelter since he was a toddler, volunteering and visiting with the residents.
Kron has seen a lot of changes since he came to the shelter in 1993: A new building, new faces and a policy to hire former residents as shelter staff members.
But some things never change, and neither does his passion for helping those who need it the most.