The Partnership's Danielle Hubley wrote a short memorial to David Dudley, who tragically passed away last Friday. Mr. Dudley was a statewide leader in the work to end homelessness, both in his position as Residential Program Director of Shelter NOW in Meriden, and as a board member of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. His obituary can be found here.
Today we encourage all to take a moment of silence to honor David Dudley, a cherished husband, father, friend, leader, and innovator. Many in our community and across the state are sitting with the absence of an incredible presence, as we recognize the loss of Mr. Dudley. His passion and commitment to the work he did in his time as Executive Director of Shelter NOW lives on in all who worked with him, and his perspective continues to inform the work being done to end experiences of homelessness for people in the community.
While it is hard to capture a person’s story on this earth, we know it is not about who we were every day, but how we are remembered by those around us that informs our legacy. Mr. Dudley’s legacy only grows brighter with the comments of his colleagues and those who worked closely with him.
Below are some reflections shared that speak to and honor his legacy:
- “He was a tireless advocate who took it as his personal mission to make the lives of those he served better.” – Dave Sunshine, Director of Resident Services, Meriden Housing Authority
- “We will miss David, his vision, advocacy and persistence in fighting to end homelessness.” – Hebe Kudisch, Chief Program Officer, Columbus House
- “His perspective always came from what would truly empower people experiencing homelessness to make good choices and the importance of living with the consequences that came with any choice. He always brought, sometimes with great bravery, reality to the table.” – Lydia Brewster, former Assistant Director of Community Services, St. Vincent De Paul of Middletown
- “David was not just a board member at CCEH, but also an inspiration and someone who embodied the values of our entire coalition and movement to end homelessness.” – Richard Cho, Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness
- “When he came to the shelter as the Director, he was determined to change the image and reputation of what is a “shelter” and he succeeded. He always challenged our homeless system and pressed that we “have to do better”. He was a mentor and he was a kind, selfless person. I will take what he taught me and continue to use it in his honor.” – Caroline Perez, Senior Manager of Middlesex Services, Columbus House
I will close out this reflection with an interview for the “Faces of Homelessness” project, where David himself spoke of the value he places behind his work. A beautiful, and powerful reminder that while it is important we take this time to honor him and the life he led, there is still more we can do to ensure his legacy lives on.
“I love what I do,” David says. “I have been blessed and can bring that blessing to others.” “Society labels people and misjudges them,” hey says. But from long experience David knows it’s impossible to understand someone until you understand their life experiences. “All of our guests have some sort of pain in their past.” This could be from an adverse childhood experience(s), trauma, abuse, neglect, mental illness, and/or the death of a loved one, to name a few. This may cause people to question their value and self-worth and unfortunately do harm to themselves.
For the record David confirms that, “No one wants to be homeless.” So it’s important for staff to focus on helping guests move past old pains and to a new and brighter future. “We make the effort to reinforce value in self and the power within,” he says. At Shelter Now, no two days, nor two guests are the same. And, in part, that’s what drives David – he savors a fresh challenge.
A note on donations:
As most know, David felt his greatest accomplishment was the success of his girls. In Lieu of flowers, we have set up The Dudley Education Fund for college expenses, payable to DudleyEduFund@gmail.com (Zelle). Or, we ask that you please consider helping those experiencing homelessness by donating to Shelter NOW, 43 Saint Casimir Drive, Meriden, CT 06450 in David’s name. The shelter is currently only accepting personal hygiene items. For online condolences please visit jferryfh.com.