By: Sophie Beal
Fredrick Payne (known by most as Fred) is an incredible and dedicated human being. He arrived at Gateway as a client, rose in the ranks, was hired, and quickly became one of our most valuable employees. Today, Fred is our 3rd Floor CSA, but is always willing to help out wherever he is most needed. Now that our Summer Interns’ time with Gateway Center has come to an end, our 1st Floor Client Engagement Center requires extra help to compensate. Fred has not missed a beat–stepping up and helping our Lead CSA, Esque, to provide each person who walks through our door with the highest quality care.
Fred approaches each new client interaction with patience and steady calm, often offering much needed advice and words of wisdom. During our interview, Fred was approached constantly and hardly had a moment to catch his breath long enough to answer my questions. He told one woman who was discouraged with her situation, “We all get tired, but we just can’t give up.”
Thank you for your hard work, Fred! You’ve earned that trophy.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Atlanta, by way of California. I moved back to Atlanta when I was about 12-13 years old.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to Atlanta College of Business and graduated, then went to Georgia State and graduated with a degree in Management, and then went to Russ Institute and studied Security.
What led you to Gateway?
I actually found the Gateway Center through one bought of homelessness that I went through over a weekend. I went to Peters Street. And one of the guys over there came up to me and said “You don’t belong here. This does not fit you. You need to go to Gateway.” I went to Gateway, entered the program, and eventually graduated. I was hired by Gateway and today I’m the 3rd Floor CSA.
What inspires you most in your job?
Helping people. Seeing them come back and acknowledge that I helped them in some way. That’s the best thing about it. When I see a client who was here once and they come back to remind me of what I did for them—that’s my reward.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Not being able to help someone in the way that they need help. Having to tell them no. One of the hardest parts was when I worked in the women’s and children’s center and they’d come in at 10:30 p.m. with children and we didn’t have space, so we had to turn them away.
When you get discouraged, what keeps you going?
Prayer. I have church members I call when I get to that point. Either that or I work out on my music on my keyboard—that lifts me up.
What’s one memory of Gateway you’ll always remember?
There are many memories I have from Gateway . . . Recently, there was a guy here who was ready to give up, but I talked to him just like I do with all of our clients. What started as a one on one turned into a group session and, low and behold, he listened. He decided to be patient, put the work in, went out there and found a job. Now he’s about to move into his own place.
Another memory was when I graduated from the program the clients here threw a party for me.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I always tell the guys here—I never have any free time. I’m just as busy on the weekends as I am during the week. But when I do have time I watch movies, study, and work on my music. I do gospel, R&B, Jazz (but mainly Gospel). I perform every Sunday at church.
Where is your favorite spot in ATL?
According to my wife, my kids and my church members, my favorite spot is American Deli—but I think my favorite spot is actually home.
If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
Be patient. Keep focused. Keep the faith. Keep at it. Don’t give up. That’s what I keep telling the guys here. That’s what I’d tell anyone.