"He actually subpoenaed me by name," Peterson recalled. "An FBI agent delivered it."
Starr's team believed
"I said, 'Guys, I'm a professional tattle-tale. If I had that video, do you think I'd be hiding it? I'd be running it so much it would be so thin we couldn't use it,'" Peterson said.
After dedicating decades to broadcast news, Peterson wants to call attention to a different kind of story as chairman of Adopt-A-Family, a 35-year-old nonprofit organization that serves homeless families with children in
Its goal is to help people like Kim, a mother of two sons, who has battled debt and other problems and hopes to move into a new home in six months. The organization was founded by three
Local media played a role in spotlighting that family, but generally this is not a world measured in sensational ratings splashes. Peterson calls the culture "quiet" and "understated. " It involves attracting donors and helping people in need by, for example, providing a safe and reliable place for aftercare so parents can work.
"My wife has been involved in Adopt-A-Family since 1992," Peterson said. "When I retired, I learned what Kathy was telling me all along was true. The caliber of the people here, the work they do, is just so healthy and transparent I got sucked into it."
After serving as a board member for several years, Peterson assumed the role of board chairman last year.
He retired in 2009 as senior vice president in the television station group for
The prosperity enjoyed by many people in
"I fear we are so busy that we ignore the bigger picture," Peterson said. "We should be stronger advocates for affordable housing."
Where you live now: Breakers West (unincorporated
About your organization: Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches' mission is to provide housing and services to help families with children experiencing homelessness achieve stability and sustainability. Homelessness is a huge and complex issue but Adopt-A-Family focuses exclusively on families with children. There are other excellent agencies helping homeless individuals and we are fortunate to partner with many amazing organizations working toward the same goal of ending homelessness in
Adopt-A-Family started 30-some years ago when three women joined together to help homeless families. It has grown and evolved robustly through the years to become an agency with 60 employees, owns 98 units of housing and operates eight separate programs. For the past 12 years, it has achieved Charity Navigator's Four Star Rating, which makes it among the top one-percent of nonprofits in efficiency, effectiveness and financial transparency. We are very proud of that.
That success comes from a culture that is quiet, understated and very much focused on today's work. We manage the county's emergency shelter and have a good record of taking families living in their car or in a park and getting them stabilized in a clean apartment; 90 days later they are moving into their own apartment. We place a couple dozen families in hotels each night. We pay first month, last month and a security deposit to rapidly get families in an apartment. We help with rent or pay utilities to prevent an eviction. All these costs are going up because the scarcity of affordable homes is driving up rents.
I fear we are so busy that we ignore the bigger picture. We should be stronger advocates for affordable housing. We need to be stronger advocates for young children moving so often they cannot keep track of their clothes let alone their studies. Sleeping some nights in a car, some nights in a motel and some nights on an aunt's sofa exacts a toll on young lives. Behavior and school performance suffer. In fact, school becomes their haven: the only stable place that provides food and safety.
Our voice should be louder on their behalf. We need to coalesce our partners in this advocacy.
First paying job and what you learned from it: I will get some razzing about this, but my first paying job was raising chickens and selling and delivering eggs.
My family had a little farm in
My second job was working in a professional summer-stock theater, primarily in lighting. One of the production people also worked in TV, and that led me to other opportunities.
First break in the business: My first break in television was when I was hired to work in the studio of
It was important and there was great energy, creativity and spontaneity to the work. I was also lucky because that small newsroom was filled with gifted writers. I learned to write and speak by stealing their work. I was a shameless mimic. Networks also had gifted writers and I was an equal opportunity thief in stealing the storytelling of
Best business book I have ever read:
What you tell young people about your business: I am fortunate that, currently, my "business" is serving as board chair of Adopt-A-Family. Here, it is all about the clients and donors who support them. Adopt-A-Family's culture immerses everyone in the notion of service to families and respect and attention to donors.
What do you see ahead for
Adopt-A-Family is trying to do its part by building an additional 14 townhomes for homeless families on our
What makes this program unique is the special educational program for the children who will live in those townhomes in partnership with nearby
Where we can find you when you are not at the office: I am also on the board of the Kravis Center, which is in the midst of a huge Capital Campaign, and am active with a couple HOAs so I keep pretty busy.
Favorite smartphone app: I remain a news junkie, so I use many news apps. I check weather radar a lot, but that is a
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Energy. You can train people in a lot of skills but it is impossible to externally infuse energy.
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