Our House's new executive director has quite the job history: She's been a special education teacher, a project coordinator and even a psychological operations specialist for the Army.
Misty Dothage said she'll be able to use everything she's learned so far in her new role at the local homeless shelter.
"A lot of the individuals (who use the shelter) have learning disabilities or mental health issues directly related to their situation," she said. "And psychological operations is about the human mind and behavior management."
When Dothage saw the job listing for the role, formerly held by Brad Sheppard, she knew it was the job for her. Born in Montgomery County, she, her husband and their two children were in the process of planning a move back to Missouri from North Carolina.
"I've had a passion for serving homeless individuals since I was a child," she said. "My dad would take loads of scrap metal to St. Louis. As we crossed McKinley Bridge, every time we passed a homeless person, I'd say, 'Dad, we have to help them,' and try to open the car door."
She also remembers writing an essay in fourth grade on the topic of what she would do or create if money weren't an object. She imagined a homeless rehabilitation program to help the disadvantaged get back on their feet.
When asked how, as a fourth-grader, she'd thought up such a complex program, Dothage shrugged and smiled.
"When God puts something on your heart, amazing things can happen," she said.
As she grew older, she volunteered at soup kitchens and domestic abuse shelters.
Days before she was due to move into the dorms at Missouri State University, Dothage decided to follow her brother into the military.
"(Military service) puts life into perspective for you," Dothage said. "It teaches you how to selflessly live for and fight for people you might never meet."
She went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a master of science in business administrative studies. After a couple of years as a special education teacher, Dothage transitioned to project management. During three years as a project coordinator at North Carolina State University, she helped create a program called "Street Talk" to connect students with shelters.
"There's quite a population of homeless students there, so the goal was also to get people to open their eyes," Dothage added.
She said that Callaway County also has a proportionately high number of homeless individuals. While Our House's programs — one that provides transitional housing for families and another serving as an overnight shelter for adults — are in good shape, Dothage hopes to seek more community partnerships so the shelter can do more.
"I'd like to get us more visible in the community, because more donors means more resources," she said.
Our House will have its annual local food dinner fundraiser at noon-1:30 p.m May 20 at First Presbyterian Church from. The meal will be provided by Terra Bella Farm and tickets will be available at the door or by calling Our House (573-642-6065) for $20.