Casey Wray doesn’t just find his work at Good Samaritan Boys Ranch rewarding. He sees it as important to the social fabric of a community.
“Youth who grow up or spend time in the foster care system are more likely to go to prison or end up homeless. It is of critical importance these kids be given the opportunity to do something more with their lives,” says Wray, director of transitional living for Footsteps Transitional Living, a Good Samaritan Boys Ranch program.
Footsteps helps young men ages 16 to 21 with housing, counseling, employment and education options as they transition out of foster care to independent living.
“In creating and continually enhancing a program like Footsteps, we have been able to impact the lives of hundreds of youth who may otherwise end up on the street,” Wray says. “While success is not guaranteed, they do need a chance. Footsteps provides that chance.”
Wray began at Good Samaritan Boys Ranch as a residential therapist in 2002 and was promoted two years later to his current position in Footsteps, which was then a struggling program, he says. Wray worked to repair relationships with state agencies and build confidence in the initiative, which has tripled the number of youth served in the past 10 years with hopes to assist even more in the future.
“Footsteps has now become one of the premiere programs of its kind in the state of Missouri,” Wray says, noting the opening of a new $1.6 million group home on East Norton Road in 2010.
As he worked to enhance Footsteps, Wray focused especially on designing and implementing a quality improvement program, which has been recognized by the independent Council on Accreditation as unique and transparent.
“This program helps to push our organization forward by constantly evaluating, defining and refining who we are, what we do and how we do it,” Wray says.
He strives to focus on continual development.
“Changing the culture is never easy. At Footsteps, we have been successful in shifting to a culture that emphasizes the inherent strength of individuals, as well as increased emphasis on growth and development,” Wray says. “The development of, and adherence to, our core values has become our blueprint for a successful program.”
Outside of Footsteps, Wray was a member of Leadership Springfield Class XXVI; participates in the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s nonprofit roundtable; is a licensed professional counselor and children’s pastor; and speaks in the community about the challenges older youth face as they leave foster care.
“I am passionate about leadership and development,” Wray says. “I have been fortunate to be placed in a wide range of areas where I have the ability to lead and develop others.”[[In-content Ad]]