Dr. Frank Starks Brings a Whole Person Care Approach to his Clients and Team
Dr. Frank Starks – known here as Dr. Frank – is Ritter Center’s new Whole Person Care Program Manager. Dr. Frank comes from a previous role as health education program manager providing drug and alcohol awareness and life skills. This was a court mandated program for newly released parolees from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“I worked there for 6 years and truly enjoyed it. That position allowed me to give people a second chance at life. The people I worked with had just come out of prison for 10, 20, 30 or, even in one case, 50 years. When California ended the program, I was hoping to find another opportunity to help veterans and people experiencing homelessness,” said Dr. Starks. “Ritter Center was the perfect place for me to work with this population. I have only been here a few months, and already every day has been really busy.”
Dr. Frank is well aware of the intense nature of the work at Ritter Center and how that can affect staff.
“I aim to use my organizational psychology background. As a leader, I want to be a role model in how I work with my own team. I really like that I can choose my own team. Soon I will have eight team members,” said Dr. Starks. “I am focusing on giving the employees a voice. They know that the work they are doing is important. I know that they have a lot to offer and hearing their invaluable input, acknowledging it and executing on it is key for the health of our work environment. I am excited to support the team on whatever issues are most important to them, and what they need help with most right now in order to enable our team to do the best work possible on behalf of our clients,” said Dr. Frank.
To that end, Dr. Frank’s team meets every day.
“We talk about our clients and what they need to persevere and overcome their challenges. It is this cadence of a constant daily check in with each other as a team and the status of our clients with high level needs that keeps the engine running,” said Dr. Starks. “One client, for example, that we helped get housed, has run into challenges while living at this particular address. We can serve to support this individual as a liaison with neighbors and the apartment manager.”
Another way Ritter Center can support individuals with a high level of needs is around identifying the right combination of wrap-around services needed, helping clients to keep track of what works and keeping the focus on doing it. This dovetails into finding housing and getting buy-in on resolving situations with the best possible resources on hand.
“Our work requires a lot of patience, interaction, and checking in. One thing I am looking forward to having is a team building day. The team and I are busy planning that right now.”
“I commend the leadership at Ritter Center because of their willingness to change as needed. They listen to problems we are encountering and truly consider options to improve situations and resolve challenges as a team. This is powerful.”
“It is also extremely helpful for new people that come on board. That way, we all feel part of the team. We feel empowered. That comes from being listened to by leadership, and the access of being open to possibilities for pivoting as to how we do things as needed. Leadership is responsive and by trying hard to accommodate and satisfy employees, we are making a difference together. This helps with recruitment and retention. That work life balance is key,” said Dr. Frank.
“Our work at Ritter Center is all about second chances.”
“It is similar to my work with the prison population in that we can change lives. We help people get on their feet. By enabling access to housing, we can allow individuals who are struggling regroup and reset their mindset. What do they really want to do in this lifetime? Living on the streets doesn’t allow them the future they deserve. They are in survival mode – just figuring out the next hour. Like parolees, it is a second chance to start their life again. It is a privilege and satisfying to be a part of, and to see their success,” said Dr. Frank.
Welcome Dr. Frank, we are so appreciative of the expertise and compassion you bring to your team, Ritter Center and our clients.