Friday Feature: Brad Atchison

Legacy of service
Brad's story

Your name: Brad Atchison

Your role at Volunteers of America Michigan: Senior Director of Social Services

What brought you to this position? I was finishing my undergrad degree at Michigan State, and needed a part time job to make rent payments. Volunteers of America Michigan had an opening for their 3rd shift Case Monitor position with the veteran housing program. The job was to ensure our veterans were taken care of during the evening, and that any sort of paperwork that needed to be proceed. I thought I would just do the job for a year and work my way into an entry level case management position with another organization. However, I’m thankful that God didn’t let my original plans come to fruition. I’ve been with Volunteers of America Michigan for over nine years now. I’m grateful for all the opportunities they’ve given me, from frontline work to management, to serve our veterans and families in need. Hopefully I can continue the legacy of service and mission our agency has had in my newest position.

What is your biggest takeaway from working with Volunteers of America Michigan? Our work is meant to be an extension of grace and hope to those we serve. I’ve told staff before that we aren’t in the business of evaluating what people deserve, because that mindset leads to serving the problem, not the person. Rather, if we start at the place grace, at the place of “how do we help the person in front of us to find hope and be self-sufficient, regardless of what they’ve done or what they do/don’t deserve,” then we are providing something much more radical.

What is your biggest challenge in this position?Realizing that every tiny thing I do affects our culture and mission. The burden of leadership is that we are to empower and inspire our staff to carry out the mission we’ve undertaken. That means I must approach every situation running at my highest capacity, so I can serve my staff well. If I don’t, it can negatively impact the department, and our clients.

Where is your dream vacation spot? A quite cabin, in the woods, with lots of books, and little noise.

What is your favorite book?Outside of the Bible, it’s Communion with the Triune God by John Owen. Owen reflects on the majesty of triune God, his grace, and how grace is communicated to us. It’s a formidable read, but a satisfying one at that. One of my new year plans is to re-read it in 2019.

How do you spend your time outside of the office? Spending time with my family. They are a rambunctious bunch, but I love them dearly and wouldn’t do anything different (even if my introverted self is gasping for more alone time).