Pedro Sanchez is the Operations Director at Travelers Safe Haven.

Over the past 17 years, Pedro has watched his pays-the-bills job at Urban Pathways morph into a calling. “Helping people felt good,” he says, “so I never left.”

To date, Pedro has served as a maintenance worker, security guard, shift supervisor, and now, many promotions later, he is the Operations Director for Travelers Safe Haven in Midtown Manhattan. Safe Havens are transitional housing facilities for homeless individuals who resist entering shelters.They promote stability by providing housing and rehabilitative services, case management, assessments and referrals to care and/or treatment, and housing placement assistance.

It’s no small task for the 36-year-old father of two: his responsibilities include supervising maintenance staff, building upkeep, preparing for new intakes, and making sure there’s always a full stock of cleaning supplies and bathroom essentials. Pedro also coordinates with kitchen staff to ensure that meal plans and budgets are followed.

And then came the coronavirus pandemic, a time when “people are acting like they’re allergic to each other” and the rules of normal are being rewritten. Still, Pedro says, the members of his staff remain focused on showing that they care, turning up eager as ever to contribute to the Urban Pathways ecosystem. Heightened cleaning protocols mean Pedro and his team are continually sanitizing surfaces, and meals are now served in shifts to make social distancing easier. “Clients are appreciative when they see us taking this seriously,” Pedro says.

Throughout his tenure at Urban Pathways, Pedro’s motivation has been the small moments. One Christmas, for instance, a middle-aged client cried as Pedro, clad in a Santa Claus costume, handed him a gift. It was, he said, the first he’d ever received.

“My work is meaningful,” Pedro says. “I know I’m making a difference.”