By Donna Parker
At one time, Greg Morris, who received a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and political science from Trinity in 1993, was busy managing Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for the City of Boise. In that capacity, Greg dealt with complainants, landlords, and advocates, but during this time noted a serious gap in services for homeless families. He quickly set about formulating a plan – which turned into a program – which would soon attract attention by Harvard University’s JFK School of Government and the National League of Cities.
“Before the city hired me, I was the managing director at the largest homeless shelter in Idaho which became a city project but was costing taxpayers $1.2 million a year. After the Boise Rescue Mission took over the shelter, the focus was on homeless, single men with minimal service provided for homeless families,” explains Greg.
“The time was ripe for change so I developed a proposal to have the city fund a few case workers for the families while inviting local churches to help pay rent for families until they could get back on their feet. The mayor liked the idea, so we hosted a breakfast with faith leaders to hear a presentation on the idea and the response was overwhelming.”
Charitable Assistance to Community’s Homeless (CATCH) was born in 2006, becoming a semi-finalist for the Harvard’s JFK Innovations in American Government Award and winning national recognition from the National League of Cities just a few months later. The program has since attracted interest and inquiries from cities all over the country.
“Local government is demonstrating leadership and also partnering with the faith community which creates a business co-op between church and state,” says Greg.
CATCH is Greg’s job but he explains that it’s much, much more.
“It feels like my life’s work and calling. I love what I do.”
Remarkable…considering that Greg, a native of Fort Worth, and his wife,
Sarah, whom he met within a month of graduating from Trinity, simply left their lifelong homes in Texas to try Boise on for size.
“We literally moved up here on a wing and a prayer. We put everything we owned into a 10-foot U-haul truck, only knowing two souls in Boise.
In the process, they discovered their true fit in life as community activists and parents of 3-year-old Sophie and 6-month-old Jonah.
“Parenting brings such emotion.... it is my greatest joy and simplest pleasure. I cannot imagine my life without the gift of being a dad. It is so fulfilling being a witness to your children.”
The family spends time together exploring the myriad of parks and Idaho’s wide-open spaces. Sarah, a former ballerina, teaches dance and is a full-time mom.
Greg knows how fortunate he is to have realized his passion in life and explains that influencers like Moya Ball, department of speech and drama, were instrumental in instilling the confidence in him to follow his dream.
“She was such a great encourager and mentor. I loved her classes in rhetorical theory at a time when I was interested in becoming a good communicator, especially in preparation for law school. “I also truly enjoyed learning from David Schultz, department of political science. He was young, energetic, and passionate and so very encouraging.”
“A lot of people go to college, major in one area and then do something completely different. I was primed for law school. Now working for city government and being involved in social justice issues, I feel my Trinity education was the perfect backdrop for how my life has finally pieced together.”You may contact Greg at GMorris@cityofboise.org
After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator