Harrison County

From banker to social worker? Maybe, says homeless volunteer

Bud Boudreaux
Bud Boudreaux

From banker to social worker? Maybe, says homeless volunteer

Clifton "Bud" Boudreaux is a buttoned down banker, but he's decided he might just become a social worker after he retires.

Boudreaux has volunteered hundreds of hours to help the homeless, which is unusual for a businessman and the reason retired social-work professor Pat Davis nominated him for an award.

The Mississippi Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers recently named Boudreaux Public Citizen of the Year.

I think he is a great role model," Davis said. "I wish more people in the business community would get involved and have a better understanding of homelessness."

Boudreaux and Davis became acquainted through the Open Doors Homeless Coalition, where Davis is a founding member and Boudreaux serves as treasurer, a job he took on in 2004.

He had started to attend Open Doors meetings in 2002 as a representative of Regions Bank, where he is vice president of the Bay St. Louis bank. Open Doors, based in Harrison County, coordinates and funds services provided by South Mississippi agencies that assist the homeless. Boudreaux has since volunteered his skills as the nonprofit agency's treasurer and as a board member.

In her experience, Davis said, most of the volunteers who help the homeless are social service professionals or members of the clergy. She wishes more business people would follow Boudreaux's lead in volunteering their skills.

Boudreaux helps each year with Open Doors' Point in Time Survey, a national effort. Social services professionals and volunteers fan out one night a year to survey the homeless, visiting camps or other places where the homeless are found.

"I realized that so many people are homeless or become homeless because of one accident, or one illness or one job layoff," Boudreaux said. "A lot of people are just one disaster away from being in this situation, so this is a way for me to help those people."

Boudreaux pitches in where he can. He spends six to eight hours a week working as treasurer for Open Doors, but put in much more time when he served on the board. He has audited the books of agencies that depend on Open Doors for funding and have limited resources.

Boudreaux will be retiring from his day job in three or four years. He has thought about spending his days on a golf course, or maybe even teaching history. But he's also tempted to complete a degree in social work.

"I really am contemplating that," Boudreaux said. "Working with the coalition just kind of opened my eyes to the fact that there is help out there. It's just a matter of coordinating it."