The Light : June 2016

A Hard Life

I was basically homeless for 20 years, moving from the streets to a relative’s couch to a friend’s floor. I’ve never stayed in any one place for long.

I think I’ve stayed in over a hundred places over the years, in all sorts of conditions. I’ve had to sleep outdoors in extreme heat, and in the bitter cold.

This journey started when I was growing up in Memphis. My dad was never in the picture, and my mama was real mean; she’d whip me for almost anything. So I stayed at my grandma’s house as often as I could. She was the only person in my family who ever showed love toward me.

I often acted out in anger, and got in a lot of fights. I was in and out of juvenile detention, and as an adult, in and out of jail. I struggled with drugs, especially weed and taking pills.

Finally, about a year ago, I decided I wanted to turn my life around — not just for me, but for my daughter Natasha too. It was no way for a family to live. I planned to move away from Memphis and just start over. A friend recommended Atlanta Mission.

Right when I was having these thoughts, a person that I thought was a friend stole every penny I had — more than $3,000. I was going to buy a car with that money. So when that happened, it was like the last straw. I scraped up enough for two bus tickets to Atlanta.

It’s the best move I’ve ever made.

I spent almost a year at Atlanta Mission. That’s the longest that Natasha and I have ever stayed in one place. I went through their programs, and learned that my anger was really just my way of crying out for attention, for love. The people at Atlanta Mission really care about you, about helping you in real life.

Now I’ve got a job, and we have our own apartment. I’m going to get my GED, and then go to school to become a barber.

For the first time in my life, I’m happy and content. And thanks to your support of Atlanta Mission, our little family — Natasha and me — is stable and full of hope.

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Family Reunions

How you help broken families reunite . . . and why it matters.

Ellen* had a number of “life issues” she had to work through. She had grown up in a difficult home and, as an adult, had a lot of anger and mistrust. She acted out in inappropriate ways, and in the end, the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) had to remove her kids.

16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-1Devastated and afraid, Ellen turned to Atlanta Mission for help. She checked into My Sister’s House, the ministry’s facility for women and children. She was desperate to get her kids back, and willing to do whatever it took. She faithfully attended classes on parenting and dealing with her anger. And in the process, she was able to forgive a lot of people who had hurt her in the past.


Along the way, Ellen’s social worker at Atlanta Mission stayed in touch with DFCS, letting them know about Ellen’s progress. When she completed her classes, finished school, and got a good job, Atlanta Mission recommended that she be reunited with her children . . . and DFCS agreed.

“That’s always our hope, that families can be reunited,” says Rosa Chatmon, a social worker at Atlanta Mission. “For the future of our communities and our nation, we need strong families, and for parents to build strong young women and children.”

Broken families often yield broken — and even abused — children, who often turn to drugs, gangs, and/or violence as teens and young adults . . . and the cycle continues for their children. But thanks to you, Atlanta Mission’s counselors and programs help to break those cycles, help families to reconcile and heal, and move forward as productive members of society.

When families are healthy and intact, good things happen. Children have more stability, feel safe and loved, do better in school, have fewer social and emotional issues, and have higher self-esteem and confidence. They’re ripe for flourishing, for fulfilling their God-given potential.

In such situations, parents are often more responsible, hold good jobs, provide well, and avoid homelessness. It’s a win-win for families, all the way around.

Thanks to your generosity, families are reunited and made healthy and whole again!

*Name and photo have been changed to protect her identity.

Leaving a Legacy

By reading the stories this enewsletter, you can see how your support is making a transformative difference in the lives of individuals and families.

Wouldn’t it be great if your generosity could keep changing lives in the decades, even centuries, ahead . . . even after you’re long gone?

You can do that by remembering Atlanta Mission in your will or through a variety of other methods of planned giving.

Learn more about leaving a legacy behind after you’ve left this world behind:

“It’s a Privilege”

Why this couple supports Atlanta Mission


Ryan and Christy both volunteered often at Atlanta Mission before they got married. They were impressed with the ministry’s work with homeless people and how lives were transformed.16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2

So to them, it only made sense that they’d keep supporting Atlanta Mission after their wedding — and not just as volunteers. They’re regular donors too.

“If a ministry is a priority for both of you, it will be a priority in your regular giving too,” Christy says.

“We like the impact Atlanta Mission has on individuals who want to get better,” Ryan adds. “It’s not just a daily handout. It’s a commitment both ways — from the people in the program, and from the team at Atlanta Mission. The people there have a heart for what they’re doing, and we feel privileged to support that.”

You Can Help Restore Families

As a supporter of Atlanta Mission, you understand the importance of a stable family environment. And as you read the stories in this issue, it becomes even more evident.

Just $21 provides a day of services to one of our guests — meals, shelter, clothes, programs, 16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Restore-Familieswhatever is needed to help transform their lives.

And for many, that transformation includes reconciliation and restoration with family members — and that’s often a difficult process, because of burned bridges and painful pasts. But Atlanta Mission specializes in facilitating that process; we have social workers with that kind of training.

So, please help build stronger families today with another gift to Atlanta Mission. Click here to make your donation today. And remember, just $21 can go a long way toward bringing a family back together.

Thank you!

All in the Family

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

People often become homeless after a breakdown of the family. Those breakdowns often result from a history of addictions, abuse, poor choices, and/or dysfunctional family dynamics. Men and women come to us daily, hurting and hopeless after the loss of family.

Scripture is clear about the importance of and God’s love for families — and His desire for restoration. Your incredible generosity plays a role not only in the restoration of individuals, but in families as well.

Many men and women at Atlanta Mission have left their families. But once God grabs their hearts, marriages are restored and parent-child relationships reconciled. It’s often a painful process, but the Master Healer will restore and buy back the loss.

I love hearing stories of strengthened families — transformed men and women becoming good examples to their loved ones . . . mothers and children finding
strength and stability . . . their joy and smiles made possible only because of a loving God. The story of Shaquella and Natasha in this newsletter is a perfect example of how a family found love and hope, and I have been blessed to watch it unfold.

Your generosity also allows us to help keep moms and their children together, restoring and strengthening those relationships. I look out on our playground and see moms and their kids laughing and loving together, perhaps for the first time.

I thank God for your love and support of those we serve. They are being transformed, and families restored, thanks to you.

Humbled to serve with you,

16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese

President & CEO