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CHAMPAIGN — During Rob Dalhaus’ three-and-a-half years as executive director of C-U at Home, its budget has tripled. The organization has moved to a larger building, added overnight shelters, including Austin’s Place, and grew its transitional housing plan.

C-U at Home is now a different agency than the one Dalhaus took over, and he will now have a different role.

After pausing many of its services May 10 due to staffing shortages and safety concerns, the agency announced it will split its leadership duties. Dalhaus will become director of development and community outreach, where he’ll focus on fundraising and community partnerships, and the organization will hire a new executive director.

“We were trying to fundraise for one size (three years ago) and then tripled (in size),” Dalhaus said. “If you can imagine, that can add a lot of stress and stretch the leadership pretty thin. That’s how it’s been kind of different from when I took over, versus now when we expand the leadership role.”

In 2018, the organization brought in $140,000 from its One Winter Night fundraiser. This year, it brought in $563,000, a number that made C-U at Home’s new overnight shelters sustainable after years of mainly offering daytime drop-in services.

But safety concerns became an issue at the new shelter, and staffing shortages added to the concerns. Daytime employees, including Dalhaus, began taking on overnight shifts. During its pause in full operations, which began May 10, the organization has maintained its transitional housing operation, a small number of people have stayed in the overnight shelter, and its C-U at Work program with City of Champaign Township has continued.

The current number of staff members became unsustainable, as did the responsibilities given to the executive director, the organization’s officials said.

“During the parabolic growth of our organization in recent years, Rob took on what has effectively become two full-time leadership roles in one,” board President Maggie Johnson said. “It became clear that adding a new position focused solely on building and sustaining our donor network and community partnerships was sorely needed.

“As Rob has consistently expressed his strong passion for this role, it seemed fitting to utilize his incredible gift for engaging others in the mission of C-U at Home as we move forward.”

While Dalhaus will focus on bringing in money and partnerships, the new executive director will “assume broader administrative responsibilities for C-U at Home,” the organization announced.

Dalhaus says the new role gives him a chance to do more of what he’s good at.

“I think it’s a matter of homing in on what I’ve been blessed to be able to do,” he said. “I feel like one of the skills that God’s given me is the skill to be able to engage folks, to get them excited about things.

“That’s one thing that I’ve been able to do over the last three-and-a-half years in our community, is kind of get them excited about supporting homeless endeavors and understanding the population more.”

As far as hiring overnight employees, the process has been slow, but Dalhaus said progress has been made in the last week. He also said the organization is willing to offer part-time employment and flexibility for new employees.

“We’re keeping our minds open,” Dalhaus said. “If anyone’s got a passion or a heart for this population, then we’re going to look into them and try to give them that chance to get the job.”

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