By Alicia Lacy
The Cove Herald
The executive director for 11 of the organization's 13 year history, Cynthia Livingston has been through it all.
But now the director of the Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter is leaving Copperas Cove on Friday to move to Northern California to care for her mother, following the passing of her father in July.
Through hurricanes Katrina and Rita, spikes in gas prices and the recession, Livingston has seen it all while trying to care for those in the community who need it most through the goods and services provided by the shelter.
"I've had such an opportunity for growth - emotionally, spiritually," she said. "I experience things here through clients that I would never had an opportunity to do in any other environment."
Before she was hired, Livingston said she put off applying for the position, despite the adamant efforts of a board member.
Then she said one day the board member talked to her husband, who drove her to the Cove House to submit her resume.
"It wasn't a great big warehouse that I had envisioned with cots lined up," she said. "It wasn't hopeless people in despair.
In addition to the basic needs the shelter helps provide, Livingston said the shelter and staff offer spiritual and emotional support to help those in the long-term.
"We're a Christian ministry and without the spiritual support we really feel people would not have the hope to accomplish what they can do," she said.
With similar outlooks, Livingston and the new Cove House executive director, Linda Steimer, are trying to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Steimer moved back to Copperas Cove last November from California.
Retired from the Army after 22 years of service, Steimer said her experience as a chaplain's assistance working with soldiers through the good and bad times has prepared her for her new position.
"I'm looking forward to working with the community and interacting," Steimer said. "That's one thing I love to do is interact with people."
In the past two years, the number of people assisted with food jumped from 5,394 to 8,361 so far this year.
"It's the Cove community that supports us," Livingston said. "Without the support of our community we could not exist."
And Livingston said, after seeing how the organization operated while she was gone earlier this year, she has faith in the staff's ability to continue the shelter's mission.