It is with great sadness that we again mourn the loss of a great advocate for people experiencing homelessness, and a great friend of the National Coalition for the Homeless. Roosevelt Darby spent 20 years working to end homelessness, serving as an NCH Board Member for over 10 years, actively serving on the Executive Committee. Recently, Roosevelt had shared his talents with the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and had been featured in an NCH video talking about his experience with homelessness. Roosevelt and his compassionate friendship will be greatly missed.
Here, a few of the current NCH Staff and Board Members share their memories of Roosevelt:
As NCH’s longtime community organizer, I first came into contact with Roosevelt Darby, Jr. in 1992. He was active in a number of our projects ranging from voter registration, civil rights, to establishing a statewide homeless coalition.
His special focus was working with single homeless men having substance abuse issues. He was also adept in motivational public speaking, advocacy, and community organizing.
Due in large part to Roosevelt Darby, NCH became more focused on doing community organizing work at the grassroots level.
-Michael Stoops, Washington, DC
I remember Roosevelt’s time with us with warm and gentle thoughts. When we had the TA grant I went to Pennsylvania at his request to help organize his Board and staff. It was a wonderful three day retreat and the first and only time I have ever been to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Roosevelt got someone to take me there as the retreat wasn’t far away. His passion and his life experience made for a wonderfully humane approach to housing the homeless and truly building community. He will be missed by his family, his NCH family, his friends, and most by those he served.
-Barbara Anderson, Indiana
During the years Roosevelt spent with us on the Board, we joked about wanting to work together some day. Then one day he called me from Philly and asked if I had been serious. He came to Atlanta and ran our Recovery Program for nearly two years, leaving only because we had no more funding for the program and no ability to pay staff at all.
During those two years Roosevelt worked his gentle, straightforward magic with amazing and steady results that left us with leaders who have continued his work with themselves and have helped us continue that Recovery Program, which they call The Buddy System.
Roosevelt shared himself, his heart and his journey, with each person he coached into sobriety. We are better people and a better place because of Roosevelt’s time with us, and his legacy lives on in the lives of the men.
-Anita Beaty, Georgia
Roosevelt Darby was leader. He fought the demons of poverty his whole life. He fought his way off the streets and away from drugs.
He didn’t mind talking about his life. He was cautious yet quick with a smile if something resonated with his experiences.
There came a time in his life that he came to realize that poverty had been imposed upon him and so so many others. He became a Tax Day Captain and a Bridge Captain for the Universal Living Wage. He told the truth to anyone who would listen. He became a street warrior justice.
He was a gentle man. He’s gone home now.
Thank you Roosevelt for reaching back. Thank you Jesus for sharing this kind soul with us.
-Richard Troxell, Texas
Roosevelt was a true friend and absolute warrior for people experiencing homelessness. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the city of Philadelphia.
-Donald Whitehead, Florida
I join all others in grief. Do give thanks to God for having met Roosevelt, and will pray that he keeps on helping us on our struggle for justice.
-Glorin Ruiz Patush, Puerto Rico
Brian Davis of Cleveland, OH also offers this reflection on working with Roosevelt.
Please read more about Roosevelt’s in this nice article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.