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Norwalk Shelter Adds Muscle With New Director

The Norwalk Open Door Shelter is adding strength to the position of executive director with the hiring of body builder Chukwuemeka "Bill" Okwuosa.

The shelter announced its selection of Okwuosa on Monday. The previous executive director, Carole Antonetz, retired in December. Okwuosa came to Norwalk from West Haven, where he has been deputy state director of the Mentor Network REM Services for a little more than a year. Before that, he was director of ShelterNow in Meriden. When he took over that job early in 2008, he transformed the shelter from a warehouse for sleeping homeless people to a place that would change their lives.

Okwuosa is taking the same approach in Norwalk. "With new concepts and innovations, I'm certain that we will grow the shelter into a residential program with 360-degree services," he said in a statement. "We will strive to achieve a program where our residents' needs are met, their objectives are our priority and their hopes become reality."

Okwuosa's background includes more than six years as a correction officer in a minimum-security state prison. He then worked seven years to provide transitional housing for parolees, with a job title of district regional manager of re-entry supportive housing for the Connection Inc .

His resume lists "specialized skills certifications in the criminal justice field, substance use and abuse, co-occurring personality disorder, addiction services and best practices for the developmentally disabled population."

"We are very excited to have Bill in this role," Nate Yordon, president of the Open Door Shelter board of directors, said in a statement. "Bill stood out on the basis of his extraordinary background, professional credentials and certifications, and his passion and enthusiasm for helping others. He's exactly the kind of leader needed by both the shelter staff and the people we serve."

What can the community do to support the work of the Norwalk Open Door Shelter? Leave a comment below!

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