Love your neighbors

This conversation with Abigail wasn't planned. She was kind enough to entertain my questions and on-the-spot interview when I arrived at the Atlanta Dream Center. Her sweet spirit and willingness to serve others is palpable. One of the things that I learned from her during our short time together is that serving doesn't equal fixing. As a fellow "fixer" I completely empathize with her desire to try and help fix other people's situations, but she showed me that just listening and being of service is sometimes all that is needed in the moment. I hope that you find her story inspiring as I did and learn more about ways you can get involved with the great mission of the Atlanta Dream Center. 

What’s your role at the Atlanta Dream Center (ADC)?

I have been volunteering here for over a year, and I have been on staff as the Volunteer Coordinator since May 2015. 

How did you find out about the ADC?

I actually didn’t know the Atlanta Dream Center existed. I found Out of Darkness through an online search for a safe house in Atlanta. Then when I started reading about Solomon House, I was like – These people are my people. Through Out of Darkness I learned about Atlanta Dream Center.

What’s one of your favorite or most impactful things that you’ve experienced at ADC so far?

We see so many on a daily basis. But one of my favorites is being on hotline with Out of Darkness. It’s 24/7, so the girls call day or night. Just being that person that can talk to them, explain about the program, pray with them, build that trust and bond. Then coordinating the rescue team to go and get them – that’s probably been one of the most amazing experiences for me. Just because I felt I was so not qualified to do this job. To get to be a part of that in a volunteer capacity is amazing.

What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned? Has your perception shifted at all?

The one thing that I’ve probably learned the most is... I’m a fixer. So learning that I can’t fix it. Whether it’s working with Out of Darkness and the women coming out of the life, and she’s just not ready. And going – I just can’t fix that. And trusting God to be Rescuer and Savior. Or if it’s iAm and it’s homeless men and women or domestic violence situations. So that’s probably been the most faith-building thing for me this year. Stepping back and saying that I love these women, but I know God loves them more. And trusting Him with them. 

If someone wants to help but feels they don't have the skills or are afraid of entering a new environment, what would you say to them?

Going back to what I've learned the most, I've learned that God can take a willing heart and do a lot with it. So if someone feels like they want to get involved and God's calling them to do this – then just taking that first step. Ok, I'm here. I'm available. I think it was Isaiah who said, Here I am Lord. Use me.

I’ve learned that God can take a willing heart and do a lot with it.

I think taking that leap, because it's scary depending on whether it's talking to a homeless man on the street or going to a local track in Atlanta and taking roses and hotline cards. And it's intimidating and takes you far out of your comfort zone. But there's something in trusting God and taking that step. Then stepping back and going – woah, He just did that. And he used me to be that person. 

What is your biggest volunteer need for ADC right now?

With Metro Kidz we need tutors. Metro Kidz is the preventative method. We hope that they put iAm and Out of Darkness out of business. So we need tutors in the afternoon working with the children

We can always use more people with iAm taking men and women to programs. We have two case managers who are working with them right now.

With Out of Darkness we always need rescue team members or hotline mentors who talk with the girls in the house when they got to a long-term program. So writing letters and calling them. We have outreaches everyday Tuesday through Saturday. So we always need volunteers in those positions as well. Those aren't really in-depth volunteering and don't need extensive training. We do a little bit of training before, and then we go out into these areas. 

Whether it's playing with the kids through block parties or taking food and clothes to homeless men and women on the street or princess night and taking roses and the hotline number to the women, there’s a way to volunteer. 

As told to Kristen Green at the Atlanta Dream Center on September 1, 2015.