(WJBK) - Alex Brodrick has been with Volunteers of America organization for 35 years, and this week he's retiring after 21 years leading the organization in Michigan.
"We have very loving community and staff, and you see that when you get out in our community and visit our facilities. They care about what they do and they care about the people they have a privilege to serve. And if I’m proudest, it's building that kind of culture in our community," said Brodrick.
It's a culture of caring at VOA -- from services for seniors to helping the homeless. Other programs - like adopt a family - provide help during the holidays.
VOA is also the state's largest private provider of services to veterans. The growth under Brodrick's leadership has been impressive.
"After 21 years, we've actually grown to $21 million. So that's a beautiful thing. The beautiful thing about that is, each dollar represents service to someone, and that's what's so important about the money," Brodrick said. "It's not the budget, but it's about what the budget does to help others."
Brodrick and the incoming president share the same vision - one of continued growth. Current Executive Vice President Patrick Patterson takes over on July 1st.
"I appreciate Alex. He's so much more than a boss for me. I've known him 19, 20 years and I'll miss seeing him day to day. I know we'll stay in touch," Patterson said. "It's an honor and a privilege, and I’m humbly grateful to the board for their confidence in me, and of course grateful to the VOA family. Really this is the success of thousands."
No one fully knows the impact of VOA quite like the community members they serve. Marine Corp Veteran Restart Gilford was once homeless, but found a home and hope at VOA.
"I don't have to worry about where I'm going to sleep or where I'm going to get my next meal from, you know, it's just a great, great place to be around. And other guys here they're going to make sure you stay in a positive mind set.," Gilford said.
Stories like Gilford's are what has moved Brodrick to serve for so many years.
"Love and compassion for people," he said. "It's a part of my heart work, its part of what I was called to do, trying to make a difference. Going to work each morning, excited about what you're doing, knowing that if you do your job well, someone else is going to get some help from that.
"And we're doing it in so many different areas now. I always enjoy my drive-ins into work, because I get a chance to say, what is it today that will make a difference?" Brodrick explained. "I hear all the stories of the veterans and the men, women and children that are homeless that we're taking care of, and I know in my heart we're doing the right thing. So that's probably the thing that I feel great about -- I'm very passionate about what I do."
Brodrick's time at VOA may be winding down, but the services established under his leadership will continue to have a profound impact.
" [VOA is] life essential," Gilford said. "Like I said, without this place not being here, who knows the position some of us would be in. It's needed, it's perfect, it changes lives."