From Policy to People – Paul Haire’s Community Lodgings Story
Paul Haire is a self-described “wonk who used to write social and public policy from 30,000 feet”. Not exactly the background you would expect for his newest career – running Your Dogs Best Friends, one of Alexandria’s best loved dog daycare and boarding facilities.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Paul worked for senators and Presidents, trying to create legislation and programs. Today he runs a small business that he feels puts him on the front lines of the very social and policy issues he once saw from above. His company has 35 employees. Most of them from the wrong side of the tracks. Many are from the wrong side of the law. Several are graduates of Community Lodgings.
“It isn’t just Jenny [McDaniel] who rose from dog bather to our General Manager, who Community Lodgings helped,” Paul explains. “By providing affordable housing that was close to her job for a very worthy and determined ex-offender, Community Lodgings made it feasible for my company to lean much further forward in helping others who needed, and deserved, a second chance. A great deal of the success we have today is due to our on-going collaboration with Community Lodgings.”
Paul had come to know about Community Lodgings through a member of the Community Lodgings staff he met at a Del Ray Business Association meeting. They shared an interest in mentoring, and from that day forward Paul has been a friend and supporter of Community Lodgings.
“When I began to support Community Lodgings it never occurred to me that someday someone very important to me would graduate from their program. I was very moved by how quickly and caringly they responded when Jenny needed a safe and affordable place to live.”
Jenny thrived while living in Community Lodging’s affordable apartments and eventually was promoted to general manager of Your Dog’s Best Friends, mentoring others.
Paul’s small-business, grassroots approach is a far cry from his Capitol Hill days. Still, he believes that hands-on is the best approach, and he views Community Lodgings as a vital part of the solution.
“Community Lodgings is absolutely on the front lines,” he said. “When I see the people of Community Lodgings care the way they do about giving and getting hugs from the kids and families they serve, that, to me, is where I will put my money.”