The Light: August 2019

Turning Nightmares Into Dreams

Homeless and living in a car, a mother makes a desperate decision to give her daughter a better future.

Every precious child deserves a childhood. Every loving mother . dreams of a better future for their children. But sometimes, a family’s dreams turn into a nightmare—like they did for Shawnta and her 8-year-old daughter, Starcia.

For 14 years, Shawnta worked for the DMV in Baltimore, Maryland, and provided a safe, loving home for Starcia. But one day, she lost childcare for Starcia—and that’s when everything changed.

“When I lost my childcare and couldn’t work regularly, they let me go,” Shawnta says. “Then I couldn’t find another job because I couldn’t afford childcare anymore. I ended up losing my home and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I didn’t know what to do.” Her nightmare grew darker—and so did Starcia’s.

“I used to sleep in the backseat of our car,” little Starcia remembers. “It was cold, but Mommy gave me lots of blankets. She cried a lot. I had scary dreams.”

The memory still breaks Shawnta’s heart.

“My life was chaotic, crazy, and dysfunctional,” she recalls. “Everything was so dark and confusing, I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. I was so scared, I couldn’t sleep.”

One day, Shawnta got online to search for family shelters. Atlanta Mission was at the top of the list. Even though she lived in Baltimore, something inside her said, “Go.” So Shawnta spent the last money she had for bus tickets to Atlanta.

When they arrived, they came straight to Atlanta Mission. Then Shawnta wept. “That first night, I slept through for the first timein years because I knew Starcia was safe,” Shawnta says. “Then I got up the next morning and I was on a mission.”

Shawnta immediately enrolled Starcia in the local elementary school. Then, within weeks, Shawnta found a job—and new hope for a brighter future.

“Over the past year, Atlanta Mission provided us with everything we needed,” Shawnta says. “Food, clothes, transportation, childcare, counseling, everything.”

But best of all, Shawnta got to see Starcia be a child again—and thrive, especially at school. “Math is her favorite subject, and she’s excelling,” Shawnta says proudly. “And she’s made so many friends! She loves it here.”

Today, Shawnta and Starcia are preparing to move into their own apartment. But she says this to caring people like you: “You reminded us that we have value. We are actually worth it, and we can become functional again. We’re going to make it!”


Back to school mission

Back To School Mission

Thousands of students in Atlanta have gone back to school, but for some, this time isn’t easy.

Make a difference in the lives of kids experiencing homelessness.
$25 provides a child with a backpack, school supplies, and tutoring.

More importantly, your donation provides hope for a brighter future.

“Helping Kids Be Kids At Atlanta Mission”

When Sam and his mother first came to Atlanta Mission last fall, Sam was really struggling. He had already been through so much in his 7-year-old life, and he was too young to make sense of what was happening. He never felt safe, and he didn’t know how to ask for what he wanted or needed. So he acted out, like hurt children often do—lying, stealing, picking on other kids. He was frequently suspended from school.

Children like Sam come to Atlanta Mission every day. Many have never had a stable place to live. They’ve been in and out of different schools. Their friends are constantly changing. And because of all the instability, many are academically behind where they should be. Other children suffer from more severe trauma—they’ve grown up witnessing domestic violence, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

Traumatized and homeless children—and their mothers—need specialized help and care tailored to their specific needs. And thanks to your support, Atlanta Mission is uniquely equipped to provide these children with the care they need to turn their lives around. Our highly
trained staff of child clinicians, education specialists, teachers, and advocates assess each individual child’s needs and develop a detailed plan and goals to help that child thrive.

Your gifts provide children with counseling and therapy, help with behavioral issues, educational support, childcare, connections to medical care—even everything they need to go to school, from registration to uniforms to school supplies.

Today, Sam, thanks to help he is receiving at Atlanta Mission, is beginning to thrive. He feels safe, his behavioral issues are changing, and he’s able to better identify and ask for what he wants and needs. Sam is just a child. But for the first time, he gets to be a child—all thanks to caring people like you.

I am passionate about children like Sam, and I am passionate about Atlanta Mission and the work we do helping kids like Sam be kids. Thank you for being a part of this life-changing ministry


Investing in Young Lives

Dear Friend,

As the school year begins, we all see great hope and possibilities in our children and grandchildren. We want more than anything for them to thrive and to be all God has made them to be. At Atlanta Mission, we share this same hope for every child who comes to our door

Yet many who come face extraordinary challenges. Staggering numbers have witnessed—or even tragically experienced—terrible violence, as well as unfathomable emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Where is our hope for them?

We know Christ is the great restorer. He is the hope giver. And every day, Christ is working through our teams of teachers, behavior specialists, counselors, and social workers to give these children new life. Through their love and patience, they give these precious children the chance to be children again, children that God created them to be.

Your incredible generosity and prayers make all this possible! Children once filled with pain and trauma now know who they truly are in Jesus Christ. Every time a mom and her children come to our door, I think of Jesus’ words: “Let the little children come to me.” You are the hands and feet of Jesus for these little ones, welcoming them and helping them become all He created them to be.

As school comes back in session, thank you for helping all God’s
children see His love!

Humbled to serve and give with you.

Jim Reese

President & CEO

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