Javier Montemayor felt a little lost and out of place the first time he visited the Austin Street Center in Dallas. The homeless gathered outside immediately picked up on his confusion.
One woman asked if he was lost — he explained he was trying to find the main entrance so he could meet with the officials to talk about building a garden. The woman directed him, and commented that the homeless aren’t bad people and would watch his car while he was in there.
It was a humbling and eye-opening moment for Montemayor, the chief compliance officer and vice president of regulatory affairs for Children’s Health.
Through the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas class project, Montemayor has found his calling.
“I found a significant need associated with the homeless and poverty levels in the city of Dallas,” he says.
It all started with the Leadership Dallas capstone project for 2017, where the group raised money and rallied contractors to build the New Hope Garden next to the Austin Street Center.
“We took a block of land next to the center that you would never imagine would turn into this amazing garden that provides necessities back to the center with fruits and vegetables,” Montemayor says. “We created a serene place where perhaps these individuals can get away from everything else that they’re dealing with.”
Now that the Leadership Dallas class is over, Montemayor and other alumni will volunteer for the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s annual homeless count on Jan. 25. More than just a count, Montemayor says they’ll be talking with the homeless about what they need.
“You’re truly interacting with them,” he says. “Everybody’s got a story to tell. That’s one thing we learned last year.”
By day, Montemayor oversees the compliance department at Children’s Health in Dallas doing proactive self audits.
“There’s regulations from the time that we admit patients to the care that we administer to when they are discharged,” Montemayor says. “All hospitals must be in compliance with 4,000-plus regulations and laws.”
He says he sees his job as ensuring that the hospital exemplifies its values with the patients it serves. He’s been at the job for 11 years and has more than 20 years experience overall.
“We’re not providing direct patient care but we’re still making a difference,” he says. “We’re still meeting and contributing to the mission of the health system.”