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Darren Morton

Darren Morton

  • Photos by Anthony jinson

Managing Director, Turning Point (Homeless Day Center)

Job description

Along with supervising staff, I also work to build relationships and provide hope and dignity to our community; oversee program operations and strategize development; manage the organization’s financial budget; and develop community outreach and generate partnerships.

Professional background

While I’ve had many jobs in the past, what has best prepared me for my career with Turning Point began with my first job in college. I worked at a place called Fort County Mental Health in Independence, Kansas. I was working with children who had mental issues. I journeyed from there to working at a facility in Marshall, Missouri, called Butterfield Youth Services. We worked with young men and women who had a lot of behavioral issues. After being at Butterfield for over five years, my wife and I then made our way to Columbia, where I was the technician supervisor at Pathways, which also went by the name Navig8, working with young men and women who struggled with substance abuse. I would say those are the three
most important positions that have prepared, shaped, and molded me to be able to lead here at Turning Point. What I took from those opportunities, especially Butterfield Youth Services, I could not learn in a textbook.

Hometown

Montgomery, MO

Years lived in Columbia

11 years.

Quote you live by

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are. It just matters how bad you want it.”

Favorite volunteer/community activity

My job, particularly building personal relationships with our community.

Favorite recent project

Being the team leader for the Special Olympics with ForColumbia.

A Columbia business person you admire and why

Steve Hollis: human services manager of the City of Columbia and Boone County. It seems like he works 365 days a year, always willing to help and serve outside of his job description. I really appreciate all the different ways that he’s a voice for nonprofits. His commitment and passion for what he does is extremely admirable. 

Why you are passionate about your job

What makes me passionate about the work that I do is knowing that I’m entrusted by God to do this work. I think my passion flows from knowing that I have a calling and that the Lord brought me here: the Lord brought me to Turning Point.

Why you are passionate about your company

I am passionate about Turning Point because there’s no one else doing or providing the services that we provide in this area for such a population that is so in need. Providing services here with a smile gives hope and can elevate a person to heights that they haven’t experienced in years. 

If you weren’t doing this for a living, you would

I’d be a middle school teacher or something working with youth and adolescents. I love that age group; they’re sponges ready to absorb knowledge.

What people should know about your profession

We deal with a very challenging population who have experienced levels of abuse that we couldn’t imagine — from the mental, the physical, the sexual — and mental health issues, which has then, oftentimes, led to self-medicating, which then sometimes leads to substance abuse. But behind the sign that some of them fly when panhandling are some very talented, warm-hearted, smart individuals.

The next challenge facing your industry

Trying to figure out how to get a one-stop shop for the homeless community where they can not only receive all the services necessary to help them get back on their feet in the same location, but where they can also stay overnight while meals are being provided.

Your next professional goal

To overcome the next challenge facing our industry: Creating an all-in-one center for our community.  

Biggest lesson learned in business

“I,” alone, isn’t enough to break down these walls or overcome these barriers with this population. I must trust, wait, and rely
on the Lord, along with partnering with
other agencies, entrusting them to fulfill their roles. 

How you want to impact the Columbia community

I want to be able to get the entire city of Columbia to be able to gel and see that those who are less fortunate are still very much human beings and that, if we come together as a city, we can really start to make a difference within the homeless population. 

Greatest strength

Building relationships.

Greatest weakness

Overcommitting myself.

What you do for fun

Spend time with my family, play chess, play Bocce Ball, and coach football and basketball.

Family

My beautiful wife, Kera, is a school nurse for CPS. We have been married for twelve years, but have been together since high school. The Lord has blessed us with three amazing children: Elijah, JaLee, and Boston. I would also like to recognize my parents: Pops (James Mahaney), who’s still living, and Mom (Robyn Mahaney), who passed last year. I am not who I am today without the strength, perseverance, and love that they instilled in myself and my brothers growing up.

Favorite place in Columbia

I like the Katy Trail a lot, and one of the places I most enjoy is Seoul Taco. 

Accomplishment you 

are most proud of

Being a father.

Most people don’t know that you

That I love music — all types and forms. I have an eclectic taste in music and also appreciate poetry. 

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