Senior Moments from H.O.M.E.

"Lead from the rear" and other thoughts from our new Executive Director

Posted by Amber Martin on Aug 20, 2018 10:20:00 AM

This month we've welcomed Gail Schechter as the newest member of the H.O.M.E. family. Last week, I took some time to ask her to share a little more about herself, and why she is excited to lead with H.O.M.E.

Gail comes to H.O.M.E. with decades of experience in affordable housing and advocacy. With that depth of knowledge, we asked her to share her insights as well as what drives her about the work of H.O.M.E.

intergenerational game 2002What excites you about H.O.M.E.?

I feel a heart connection to H.O.M.E. because H.O.M.E. is first and foremost about people. Housing is our way of bringing to fruition what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the Beloved Community. I am inspired by H.O.M.E.’s independence, emanating from the founders’ ever fresh, unwavering, outside-the-box mission of intergenerational living. Just as the old song says, “a house is not a home/ when the two of us are far apart,” we are H.O.M.E. because we bring people together.


Why is serving the older adult population important to you?

All too often as we age, we are shunted aside, especially if we have low incomes, little formal education, and are frail in health. When we are seniors of color, we are more likely to be poor and living in isolated, unsafe neighborhoods. But we are more than our “earning potentials.” If we are fortunate, we will all become older adults, each of us engaged in co-creating society, each of us unique human beings blossoming in talent, wisdom, and caring.


intergenerational_theresnoplacelikehomeWhat is your advice to others starting out in the nonprofit and/or social justice sector?

My advice is less about skills than about qualities. Listen and be attentive; act with courage and integrity; and approach all people with respect and empathy. One of my mentors, a veteran community organizer, uses the phrase, “Lead from the rear.” When you have these qualities, you will naturally go out into the field, embracing a philosophy of “working with” rather than in front of others.


Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Have clarinet, will travel! I’ve played to the birds and insects of the mountains of Vermont and the mesas of New Mexico. I’m looking forward to a new season with the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra, and I’m in the pit for this fall’s Savoyaires production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Ruddigore” in Evanston.


For the past several years, H.O.M.E.'s Executive Director has challenged donors to give big on Giving Tuesday. Any ideas yet for topping our challenge to donors for Giving Tuesday?

Well, I don’t have a beard to cut or a onesie to don like Bruce Otto – it’s hard beat those! Maybe I can record a ditty with other amateur musicians in H.O.M.E.’s extended family. No experience necessary!


Gail also shared that she is excited to hear from you about why H.O.M.E. is important to you. 

We invite you to join us on September 20th for an Open House at Nathalie Salmon House. 

Event:  Meet our new Executive Director at our Open House
Date:  Thursday, September 20th
Time:  4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location:  Nathalie Salmon House (7320 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago)
Admission:  Free, Light refreshments will be served
RSVP:  Please email or call (773) 295-2708 

Topics: community, intergenerational housing, aging in community, intergenerational relationships