Homeless and with nowhere else to turn, Brenda called Atlanta Mission for help. After experiencing transformation herself, she is now the first point of contact for many individuals looking for help.
by Leize Marie Davis
Atlanta Mission’s research shows that an overwhelming majority of the men and women that we serve have no healthy relationships. This means that there is no one in their corner to celebrate successes or support them in crisis. The first objective of our Transformation Model to End Homelessness is to change this.
A client who is Rooted in Community:
- Has reliable and healthy relationships with at least one person or organization. The relationships are founded in mutual respect, trust, honesty, and support.
- Is growing in a relationship with Christ.
- Has at least one personal or corporate productive hobby or recreational outlet.
Over the past year, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of community in my own life. Becoming a mother has highlighted my own desperate need to be seen, heard, and helped. I am blessed with an amazing husband who provides much of that support. However, we both still depend on our community for many things, especially as we learn how to become parents.
Often, we talk about our need for community as a support system when we experience hard times. However, I have realized a greater purpose of community is celebrating together. For example, my mother believes that my 5-month-old son is going to save the world. Not only does she tell me this over and over, but I also know she repeatedly tells anyone who will listen that her grandson is amazing.
A few weeks ago, I sent our family a video of my son playing with a toy. I said it was cute; my mom said it was a demonstration of his incredible genius. My mom’s constant encouragement and excitement are more valuable to me than any physical help she could provide.
Healthy community wildly celebrates the small steps in our journeys. Our clients’ first experiences of kinship are in our buildings, with our staff. We are called to not simply share in their joys and triumphs, but to rejoice and revel in the little things that make our clients human. Most of society believes that those experiencing homelessness do not have much to celebrate. However, we know that the Lord sees them and how He feels about them.
Our clients have lived their lives on the fringes of society. Atlanta Mission’s Transformation Model to End Homelessness is designed to engage them in a community that models His Kingdom.
Thanks to the generosity of a longtime Atlanta Mission donor, we have the special opportunity for your first monthly gift to be tripled, which means if you sign up to be a monthly donor, or Faithful Friend as we call this loyal group of donors, your gift will triple in impact. One meal will become three, one hot shower will become three hot showers, one night of shelter and safety will in fact provide three.
Becoming a Faithful Friend helps provide a level of stability to our residents that they may not have experienced before. By providing consistency of place, relationship, and provision, personal transformation is made possible.
What consistent services will your generous donation provide? Shelter: a bed, a shower, comfort and safety. Healthy food, community, and the ability to share a meal and conversation with others. Clothing: not just to protect against the elements, but clothes that bolster self-esteem and are appropriate for work. Counseling and a supportive spiritual community to help heal the soul and grow in faith. Life skills classes and job training to provide personal growth in preparation for healthy work and community relationships.
It’s easy to sign up: Simply go to the Faithful Friends monthly donor page and select an amount for your pledge each month. Your gift will be automatically deducted from the account of your choice, creating an easy, consistent way to donate that provides the help someone needs to get back on their feet and move toward a better future.
You’ll also receive updates on the impact your generous gift has made on the people you’ve helped.
On the morning of February 18, 2017, Atlanta Mission residents, community members, and volunteers turned out in force for the annual 5K Race to End Homelessness. It was a timely event—just a week earlier, the overnight temperature had dipped below freezing, so sleeping outdoors was especially dangerous.
For those people with nowhere to sleep but the streets, the race offered hope: For each registration, Atlanta Mission provided someone a night of shelter, including a warm bed, a hot shower, a decent meal, and an opportunity for life-transforming services.
On race day, 250 volunteers gathered at Centennial Olympic Park downtown before daybreak to set up. As the runners began to arrive, over 3,800 of them, they prepped with stretching exercises and fun dance warmups. The upbeat crowd consisted of young and old alike, men and women from every walk of life, including shelter residents.
Atlanta Mission’s CEO, Jim Reese, said at the time, “It’s so exciting to see these people come downtown and say, ‘These people matter.’ We can’t thank them enough.”
When the sponsor’s mascot, the Fidelity Bank lion, fired off the starting shot, the excited runners took to the downtown Atlanta streets, where they would race north toward Georgia Tech and back, past the CNN Center, Atlanta Mission’s large men’s campus, and the World of Coca-Cola.
The fastest time was turned in at 16 minutes, 47 seconds, but for many, it wasn’t about speed. With Atlanta Mission clients running alongside their supporters, it was an empowering experience for them to connect with others in the community and to realize they are cared about.
The Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness is an annual event and is one of the last Official AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifying Events. It’s one of the largest 5K races in Georgia, and it’s growing every year, with the 2018 race expected to be even larger.
Not only did participating in the race help race participants break out of the isolation that is so much a part of homelessness—for some it simply meant the opportunity to accomplish something. As one resident proudly said, “I’ve never finished anything in my life. The way that I’m going to feel today when I cross that finish line is the way I’m going to feel when I graduate.”
In my hometown, the students that attend local high schools have an annual tradition of throwing toilet paper in the trees of each other’s front yards for a full-week of all out war. The kids love it. The parents hate it.
For anybody who has been the victim of this front yard assault, you know how painstakingly annoying cleaning up this mess can be.
I had a friend who decided that there might be a quicker way to clean up all the toilet paper- by setting the end closest to the ground on fire and letting the flames do the cleaning up.
…He must’ve forgotten Smokey the Bear in this moment.
As the fire jumped from paper trail to paper trail, to leaves and branches, he learned a valuable lesson about how fires spread. And how fast the fire department can respond.
Vision works like fire. When a vision is communicated effectively, it catches fire and sets off a chain reaction. And it quickly becomes uncontainable and difficult to extinguish.
From my platform in Partnerships at Atlanta Mission, I get to see the vision catch fire everyday with how the community of metro Atlanta loves the men and women we serve.
One example this week was particularly inspiring. We have a church community who loves us very well. They come on a regular basis to play board games and cards with the men on Saturdays.
They decided they wanted to surprise us by providing a brand-new corn-hole set for the men to enjoy and for friendships to form
When they communicated this vision- to see the men build relationships over games- to a woodworker, he was inspired to double their order free of charge.
When the woodworker explained this vision to the printer who makes labels for his corn-hole sets, the printer gave him the equipment to make them for free.
And so on and so forth…the vision catching fire.
This is how we end homelessness- by fostering a community under a common mission and method. The mission is transformation, the method is friendship.
Who can you share the vision with this week? Think about what could happen if you do!
Each year, we see hundreds of individuals end their homelessness and it often begins with a night of warm shelter. February 18th, come run in the cold for those who sleep in the cold.
Your race registration will provide:
He's My Brother
When a volunteer befriended a guest, the result was life changing . . . for both.
Hakeem was jobless, homeless, and depressed. On a downward spiral, he had lost a relationship and was using drugs to numb his pain.
“I was just done,” he says. “I was even considering suicide.” He desperately needed help . . . and a friend.
He ended up finding both at Atlanta Mission, where the staff offered counseling and comfort to help Hakeem begin to turn things around. But it was his friendship with a volunteer that really saved his life.
“It hasn’t been all peaches and cream,” Hakeem says. “But if it weren’t for Atlanta Mission and meeting Kirk, I might not be alive today.”
Kirk had been volunteering at Atlanta Mission — with an outreach program through Buckhead Church — for a couple of years when he first met Hakeem. He organized Atlanta Mission’s chapel services on Wednesday nights, and struck up conversations with guests.
“No agenda,” Kirk says. “Just talk, and listen. You never know who might get blessed.”
Hakeem, who was also trying to beat a drug addiction, certainly was blessed. He saw something in Kirk that gave him hope, a reason to live.
“He’s genuine, he’s authentic, and there’s no hidden ‘motive’ when he talks to you,” Hakeem says. “He’s just a role model of what it looks like to follow Jesus. He walks before he talks, and you see it.”
Kirk was blessed too. Early on, after a long conversation, Kirk knew he wanted to pursue a deeper friendship, one that would be mutually beneficial in ways that neither could have imagined at the time.
Kirk hired Hakeem as a customer service rep at his auto parts store, but it wouldn’t be long before Hakeem’s service took on a whole new role . . . as personal assistant to a man who had just been given a death sentence.
“We needed each other”
When Kirk was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, doctors said he wouldn’t have long to live. That was more than a year ago. The journey has been brutal, but Kirk has persevered through surgery, chemo, and more . . . and remained joyful all along.
“I decided from the beginning, that whatever this rollercoaster looks like, I’m going to make it for the glory of God,” Kirk says.
Hakeem is blown away. “There’s no self-pity with Kirk,” Hakeem says. “But it’s very hard for me to see him going through this.”
Both men say they’re eternally grateful for their friendship.
“I think it’s from God that we crossed paths,” Hakeem says. “We both needed each other.”
“Hakeem has probably changed me more than I’ve changed him,” Kirk says. “We sharpen each other, every day. I feel like he’s my brother.”
Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. Thank you!
What Love Looks Like
See how these friends of Atlanta Mission are stepping up to the challenge
Daren and Karen are monthly donors who also volunteer by bringing clothing and helping to serve meals.
“Giving financially is definitely one way to help,” they say, “but to actually develop relationships is such a blessing. These folks have just landed on hard times for some reason, so it’s a blessing to be able to help.”
Ryan and Jessica have been running in and helping organize the 5K Race to End Homelessness. For them, it’s a way to give back.
“There are tons of 5K races out there, but this one has a real sense of community,” Ryan says. “Everyone comes together to serve a joint goal, to end homelessness in Atlanta. It’s a way for everyone to give back to the city they love.”
James volunteers regularly in the cafeteria and at chapel services.
“I was looking for a place to serve, and I got hooked on it,” he says. “It’s awesome to see the guys transition and transform. And we become friends along the way. Serving there brings perspective. When you serve, you will be transformed.”
Be a life-changer . . . starting today
Are you ready to make a positive impact on someone’s life, including your own? Hundreds of people who have chosen to seek help at Atlanta Mission need others to walk with them on their journey. They need people to show up — to be there, to bring hope when things seem hopeless.
We challenge you to take action. Pray. Volunteer. Get involved. And, yes, give!
In fact, if you become a monthly donor, your first gift will be tripled in value thanks to a generous matching gift challenge! Your monthly Faithful Friend gift will help even more to provide meals, shelter, clean clothes and the love of Jesus Christ to the hundreds of people seeking our help every day.
Thanks for making a difference in the lives of people who need it most. We hope it makes a difference in your life as well.
To donate, call 404-350-1301 or visit www.atlantamission.org/triple.
My Challenge: Love
Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,
For most people who are homeless, the deepest wound is relational poverty. Many have no relationships. They come to us utterly alone — physically, emotionally, and socially.
That’s why Atlanta Mission focuses on building relationships and trust. We want our guests to feel loved unconditionally. Along the way, with God’s help, our guests move from hopelessness to hope, to restoration and a transformed life.
Many of our supporters and volunteers are also building relationships with our guests. They often tell me how the experience has changed their lives. They always leave with so much more than they could ever give. Whether it’s Georgia Tech students coming in at 5 a.m. to serve breakfast (with smiles on their faces!) or the women who do Bible studies and gain a new appreciation of a single mother’s pain, they all leave here changed.
God designed us all for relationships. It’s why He sent Christ to Earth — to die for us so that our broken relationship with the Father could be restored.
We celebrate love in the month of February. In light of that, I would like to challenge you this month to love someone at Atlanta Mission, someone you would never expect to love — and, truthfully, they would never expect you to love them, either.
Serve. Volunteer. Show up. Pray. Love. This is also a good time to become a monthly giver, as a generous donor is offering a challenge gift for all new Faithful Friends. Whatever you decide, God will use this action in a powerful way.
Thanks for your love, care, and generosity!
President & CEO
Over 3,000 participants chose to run in the Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness last year, braving the mid-February cold. But for the many homeless individuals on the Atlanta streets, being out in the cold, day and night throughout the winter, is not a choice they freely make.
This year, join us at Centennial Olympic Park at 8:15 am on February 18 to help offer these men, women, and children a choice. Each race registration will fund one night of shelter and services for a person who would otherwise be out on the streets in the cold. Donors, community members, volunteers, and Atlanta Mission clients will come together to help end homelessness, a particularly dangerous experience in the bitter winter months.
Whether you volunteer, run in the race, or support it financially, you’ll feel the positivity, excitement and hope in the air when you arrive. Volunteers help coordinate the run, and the runners are given direction and do warm-up activities before embarking on the route, which winds through sectioned-off lanes on downtown Atlanta streets.
Said one resident who participated in the 2016 run, a man who had been battling drug addiction and a deep crisis of the spirit, “I never knew how much I was struggling inside. The Atlanta Mission gave me this foundation I have right now…They helped me find a new life. Today, I’m running for myself and the guys at the Atlanta Mission. Some of them can’t run, but I ran for them, because I know we can overcome it.”
Other Atlanta Mission clients who have participated in the race stress the importance of being able to actually finish something—which many have not been able to do in a long time. It also represents an opportunity to get together with new people and be part of something healthy, rather than feeling as though they are on the forgotten fringes of society.
You can help take the chill out of winter for the homeless with your participation. Register for the Atlanta Mission 5K Race here, either as a single runner, or as part of a team—start your own or join an existing one. By running, you’ll also be participating in an official AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifying Event prior to the 2017 lottery.
For Immediate Distribution
Atlanta Mission and the community of Atlanta take over Downtown Atlanta for the 5K Race to End Homelessness happening February 18, 2017 at 8:15AM. Thousands of men, women and children will take to the streets of downtown Atlanta to run a race in the cold for those who sleep in the cold. The city of Atlanta is home to over 7,000 homeless men, women, and children who face the perilous conditions of winter without a roof over their heads. Each race registration will cover one night of shelter and services for someone who would otherwise spend the night in the cold, on the streets.
The race will take place at Centennial Olympic Park (the Olympic Rings) at 8:15AM. We are expecting over 3,000 runners this year. They will be running alongside the men, women, and children who live at Atlanta Mission. This race is also a Peachtree Road Race Qualifier.
Atlanta Mission serves over 1,000 of these men, women and children every single day. The downtown men’s shelter alone is a refuge for over 400 men on a daily basis. We hope you will join us this February as donors, volunteers, community members and Atlanta Mission clients run side by side in the race to end homelessness. For more information on the race go to www.atlantamission.org/race
The city’s largest and longest-running provider of homeless services, Atlanta Mission transforms, through Christ, the lives of those facing homelessness. Established in 1938, Atlanta Mission provides overnight shelter, job attainment programming, long-term residential discipleship programming and transitional housing for more than 1,000 homeless men, women and children daily. For more information about Atlanta Mission, visit www.atlantamission.org
Fall and early winter are the perfect time of year to donate items to local shelters. As the weather becomes colder and holidays approach, the need for services and items that shelters provide increases. If you’re interested in helping serve the population of Atlanta, here are some of the most important items you could donate now.
The need for winter clothing usually piques during winter — especially at the beginning of the season. Not only do regulars need items, but families often come to shelters seeking jackets, hats and gloves. Purchasing all of these items for each child can place a significant burden on families that are just getting by financially.
If you’d like to donate clothing, thick socks, boots, coats, scarves and hats are some of the most sought-after items. Don’t just limit what you bring to winter essentials. Below is a list of just some of the items that are needed for men, women, and children year round. Please see a more complete list here.
- Liquid Soap
- Reading Glasses
- Water-based lotion
- Aerosol Deodorant
- Baby Wipes
- Diapers size 4T and Up
Books and Toys
Recreation has an important role in everyone’s life, for everyone needs a break from their daily struggles. For people who can’t afford to spend money on recreational activities, donated items provide a valuable source of fun.
At this time of year, recreational items that are enjoyed indoors are particularly appreciated. Soccer balls, basketballs and sidewalk chalk can still be used on some of Atlanta’s warmer days, but books, crayons (for kids) and quiet toys can be used regardless of whether it’s sunny outside. Additionally, reading glasses aren’t as widely needed, but a pair can make a huge difference to an older adult who is beginning to have trouble seeing text.
For many people who come to shelters during the fall and winter, school supplies can have a lasting impact. Having the items they need to complete homework and assignments, and to take to school with them, can help both children and adults who are taking classes throughout the school year.
School supplies for both children and adults are needed throughout the entire school year, including at this time of year. A few supplies that you can bring include pencils, pens, lined paper and folders, but this is not a comprehensive list of supplies that students need.
At Atlanta Mission, we welcome donations throughout fall and winter, and we’d be grateful to receive any of these items.Contact us to learn more about donating or find out whether we could use an item that’s not mentioned here.
1. a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
The most incredible and compelling transformations I’ve ever seen have happened in the lives of other human beings. This kind of transformation often takes place in the context of friendship. Encouragement, trust, vulnerability, and loving moments where hard truths are spoken all combine to become a sort of cocoon, a safe place for life transformation to happen.
Our friend Keith recently shared with us about the transformation that has taken place in his own life.
“I came to Atlanta Mission broken, wounded, and sad. In my time at Atlanta Mission, I found a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and it has made me glad.
I’m glad about the transformation of my mind. I’m glad about pursuing my job to the best of my ability. I’m glad about being in a clean and sober state of mind. I’m glad about food to eat and clothing on my back. I’m glad about my own place to live in.
Atlanta Mission stands for transforming lives. Surely it has transformed my life and ended my homelessness. I’m willing to use all that Atlanta Mission has taught me to give back to others so that their lives can be transformed.”
At Atlanta Mission’s campuses, we see life transformation every day. For someone experiencing homelessness like Keith, it may begin with a hot meal and a night of shelter. When combined with the consistent and intentional friendship of staff, volunteers, and other guests, change often begins.
One of the best ways to support life transformation at Atlanta Mission is to become a Faithful Friend. Faithful Friends are donors who provide critically needed support to Atlanta Mission on a monthly basis to help end homelessness, one friend at a time. This is a powerful way to walk alongside the men, women, and children at our campuses.
Atlanta Mission is dedicated to helping disadvantaged families take back their lives, but we offer so much more than just a safe place to sleep at night. When you donate to Atlanta Mission, you help parents find jobs to support their children. You help young men beat drug and alcohol addiction. You help Atlanta’s youth receive an excellent education. Our impact is long-term and permanent and so much more than just a Band-Aid solution. If you wonder where your money goes when you donate to Atlanta Mission, we have good news to share.
In Atlanta Mission kitchens every day meals are being served and hope is being restored. You can provide hope today. Just $2.67 provides a meal for a homeless neighbor in need www.atlantamission.org/donate.
It’s that time of year again! Groggy teenagers are having the sheets pulled off of them as their alarms sound to no avail. The combination of coffee and carpool lines have been reintroduced into many of your lives. Meanwhile, at Atlanta Mission, our kids are literally jumping with excitement as they head back to school.
For some of them, this is the first time they’ve gone to school while living in a safe and secure environment. No more couch surfing. No more sleeping in the back of mom’s van. They’re eating three meals a day now. Our kids are being tutored and are receiving counseling. Their moms are in life skills classes, gaining more tools and wisdom to support and walk alongside their children. They’re receiving more than just an education. They’re receiving a transformed life.
You can be a part of this transformation. A gift of $10 a month helps to provide a quality education for our kids and a safe place to come home to. Become a Faithful Friend to children facing homelessness. Click here to find out more.
You’ve left your house, smartphone in hand, and are exploring new areas in search of that rare pocket monster. Perhaps you are out of incense and Poké Balls and are walking through the city in search of a PokéStop oasis. Along the way, you encounter things you wouldn’t normally see, which is part of the fun of the app. In my case last week, it was a bird chewing on a worm…it was a special moment.
In your journeys downtown, you may come in contact with some of our friends experiencing homelessness. If you’ve never engaged with someone who lives outdoors, you may feel nervous or uncomfortable. But maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity to get to know someone who was created with immense dignity but has fallen on hard times.
Tips for Intentional Engagement
3. Soft granola bars are always great as well. Not only will they nourish you on your quest for Charizard, but they make a great snack for someone who hasn’t been able to get to the dentist in awhile.
4. Introduce yourself, hold out your hand, and ask for their name. Ask them where they are from. Questions like this offer dignity and value to someone who may not have frequent social interaction. See where the conversation leads you.
At Atlanta Mission we are Ending Homelessness, one friend at a time. One of the most significant gifts we receive is the faithful support from our Monthly Donors. The gifts of our Faithful Friends provide consistent support for food, shelter, educational services, job attainment, counseling, and much more!
Automatic Monthly Donations
Simplify your giving by linking your bank account or credit card.
Join others in funding everything a person needs to find a fresh start.
See Your Impact
Get updates about the lives transformed through your generosity.
Atlanta Mission Swag
With a gift of $10 a month or more, you will receive our Faithful Friend Welcome Kit which includes an Atlanta Mission tervis tumbler.
Click here to become a monthly donor or to find out more.
Last night was a special night. One of our smallest donors, Clay, got to meet some of our smallest residents. Why this is so special is because Clay donated his bike to Atlanta Mission a while back. Last night when he and his parents were visiting the shelter for graduation he saw some of the kids riding it.
Last night they were able to meet each other. Their lives could not be more different but that did not matter. God continues to blow us away with how He provides. Thank you Clay for your generous heart!
Veronica arrived at Atlanta Mission two years ago, needing hope and a fresh start for her family. She shared her story of transformation with us last year. She now wanted to share an update about all that God is doing in her life.
After graduating from Atlanta Mission’s My Sister’s House one year ago, staff members challenged Veronica to take part in a year-long ministry training program at My Sister’s House. Though initially resistant, Veronica prayed, and God led her to take part in the training. She is so thankful that He did.
“The ministry program has really transformed me to give me a heart to serve.”
As part of the program, Veronica worked in the kitchen at The Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children, where she learned humility and how to surrender control to God. This work also gave her a heart to serve those on the fringes of society and set the stage for what God was calling her to next.
“I can see a change in me as a professional and as a Christian.”
Veronica worked as a nurse for over 30 years prior to coming to Atlanta Mission. She did not expect to have an opportunity to return to her skilled profession. However, our God is a God of the unexpected and He placed her in a position as a Registered Nurse in the busy trauma center of a local Atlanta hospital.
Her time in the ministry training program provided her with the tools to face life and death situations on a daily basis with compassion and peace. She learned to talk with God daily, moment to moment even. “I know God is the final author of every story and that He’s in control in the lives of my patients.”
When asked about how she approaches nursing differently now, Veronica shares, “Previously, I felt like I was out there chasing money. I was very dissatisfied…Now, I’m at peace. I have a desire to really serve the people I work with. It is no longer a financial means for me. It is now a calling.”
During her free time, Veronica is working towards launching “Serve a Soul Save a Soul Ministry”. While at My Sister’s House, God gave Veronica a vision to join her culinary degree with her passion for people, to serve meals to those still living on the streets of Atlanta. “Not only do I want to nourish their bodies, but also, feed their souls.”
Looking to the future, Veronica wants to continue to serve those living in difficult circumstances. Whether bringing friendship and meals cooked with love to those in need or sitting at the bedside of a frightened patient, she believes that we need to meet people where they are and to fulfill God’s calling to love and serve.
And, maybe they will also find hope and a fresh start through Veronica’s transformed life and her love…