I began coordinating events at South Church in Fayetteville about a year ago after wrestling with God over the idea. I have a deep connection and understanding for the poor and homeless because, at one point in my life, I was also homeless. I was a single mom who needed a place to live and a job all within a small amount of time. There was no money coming in at all. My daughter and I moved in with friends and slept on cots. I even remember having to ask for money from my father to pay for scrubs for a job, and I felt so ashamed.
On a regular basis, I see the faces of people who are ashamed for not providing, being let go from a job, not being a good parent, etc. I never want to miss an opportunity to offer what I have in those moments because others offered what they had to me when I was in the same position.
When I started volunteering at South Church, I wanted to just fulfill a need. As time went on I started to ask, "What are they experiencing as they walk in the doors?" "How can we connect better with them?". I long to give people a sense of dignity, and I encourage volunteers to look people in the eye because there is a serious lack of human connection in their lives. I never want to forget where I came from 15 years ago, and when I choose to have empathy over sympathy, that is when I understand God's faithfulness through painful growth.