PJ Bowman

Desk Clerk

At what moment did you know DISH was for you?

Honestly, it’s a two-fold answer. I didn’t know in the beginning because we didn’t know what DISH was going to be. When DISH did come and explain what the mission was, we were skeptical in the beginning. But talking to Lauren and Doug, I knew we should give them a chance to see if they were at least on the right path with their vision. And once we got the ball rolling, we were going in the right direction. So I would say from the beginning, because I like the idea that they would come to us, to be honest. The idea around homelessness and ending homelessness, or at least assisting with the ending of homelessness, the whole idea behind it. So I would say in the beginning we all had trepidations, but I liked the sound of it.

What is your first memory of DISH?

My first real memory is the first day we started getting supplies for the Empress, because in the beginning the janitors and maintenance guys did all of the furnishings and everything for the unit. So the first time a big truck pulled up and there were over 100 mattresses, bed frames, shelving, refrigerators and microwaves, seeing that put me in the mind frame of, “They’re trying to do something different.” And it was hard work, to be honest with you, but it was gratifying knowing that they were putting their money where their mouths were: with action. How many times has an agency said, “We’re going to try this'' and they show you that they’re trying? DISH did that from Day One. The first day I met Lauren and introduced myself, she enumerated the same thing that Doug did. To see those trucks pull up and we had to unload the trucks, move the stuff to the basement plus move it back up to the unit and put it together, it just shows that with a little hard work you can get the dream rolling.

Why did you stay over the years?

The reason I stayed is because I do believe in the mission statement. I believe that we made the mission statement in the beginning but we had to solidify it with our actions. I honestly believe that Doug, Lauren, Kirk, Jason, those key guys in the beginning, had a dream, had an idea. For better or worse, we were working towards those goals. And in working towards them, you actually take some of those Service Commitments to heart and implement them in your life. And I feel by doing that, it’s imperative to finish what you start. I remember telling Doug once that ending homelessness is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and he liked that. He used it many times and in many meetings and things of that nature, but it’s true. And the Service Commitments actually show it. If you follow those steps, you won’t be where you started. You may not be finished with the race, but you won’t be where you started. So that’s why I stayed, because it’s a marathon and not a sprint. So to live with the commitments that DISH has, you’re going to stay for a while because you just want to see progress and DISH allows you to see the progress. And I just love everybody, to be honest with you! From the beginning, we’ve lost a lot of people, but we’ve gained a lot of great people. But the people that are still here, we’re trying to see the marathon through. So that’s why I stayed.

Is there anything you'd like to share about your experience at DISH?

I’d just like to say that it’s been an experience. It’s one that you necessarily can’t pay for: the experience, the people. You can’t pay for it. I will say that it’s the closest thing to doing godly work without being a missionary or Catholic nun or a priest. It’s actually helping your fellow neighbor in their darkest times. And I just feel that DISH is ahead of the curve in how we approach it. And I feel that the rest of the world, or even the City, would be proud of what we’re trying to accomplish. Anyone who works in this field or who works with people who experience homelessness should feel the same way. So really, I just want to be around great people trying to do great work.