Praise God for the experiences that He gives us in our short lives. I have always had a passion and delight for children, especially those in at risk situations, and God continues to give me opportunities to see different sides of working with these children in my life. Working with Act Together Ministries, however, has given me a completely different view of working in this kind of ministry. Of course, with any sort of work comes the actual WORK, but it is very easy to underestimate the amount of work that goes into running a business. Hats off to Heather and all the hard work that she puts in to bringing everything together for this ministry. It is easy to see that she has a hard and anointing from Heaven that is guiding her hand as she blesses the lives of others. And even though the hard work can sometimes be overwhelming, the reward when you see a child smile when he or she gets a birthday present, gets a reward for having good grades, or receives praise for working on their education makes everything worth it. I can only imagine that with all her hard work, Heather is going to reap quite a spectacular reward from our Heavenly Father.
It has also been greatly rewarding to my heart to see that there are quite a large number of people that are willing to lend a hand in helping their communities. With all the negativity going on is this world, it is easy to also develop a negative outlook. It is easy to forget that a kind word or tone in your voice can affect someone just as much as a word containing prophetic meaning. By calling local businesses in surround communities, I have had more than an ample opportunity to experience this first hand in both giving and receiving! The response to the programs at Act Together Ministries, however, has been nothing but positive and encouraging.
I have also had the opportunity to do some tutoring with Act Together and would have to say that this has been my favorite part! Just being able to honestly help and encourage these children first hand is something that is very close to my heart. I can only hope that by giving them a little extra attention and encouragement can help them develop in a positive manner and learn to give that same help to other people in their lives and future. It’s such a heartwarming feeling to be able to apply the skills that I have developed and been given to, in turn, bless those around me.
I am extremely thankful for Act Together Ministries and what the programs are doing to help those in need. I am blessed to be a part of it all and I lift praises to He who has placed His hand upon all that are involved with this ministry. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever.” Psalm 136:1
Lauren Marcela, Fall 2011
You never realize or know what amazing and powerful experiences life can throw your way!! I experienced this on Saturday, October 15, 2011 when I went to visit a single mom and her special needs son. When I first met this sweet little boy, I found him watching cartoons and receiving an oxygen breathing treatment. As our meeting progressed, I was shocked to find out that he has a rare genetic medical condition called Ataxia Telangaitalsia which is a terminal and progressive health condition. This rare genetic medical condition has been the causing factor for his recent diagnosis of cancer. I also learned that his mother faces a difficult life, and taking him to medical appointments that she cannot hold a full timejob. She wishes she could have more help and support for taking care of her son from supportive community organizations since her family is unwilling to help her because of religious reasons.
This family touched my heart and made me realize that when you don’t have serious health issues, were raised by a Mom and Dad and come from a fortunate family, you get caught up in your own reality of your life and think that everyone’s life is that imagined reality. However, you don’t realize that the reality of someone else’s life is completely different than yours. That is why it is amazing to see God’s grace and love work with and through at risk families through organizations like Act Together Ministries. This life experience has been an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. This mother’s testimony taught me not to judge other people, that the decisions you make as a young adult affect who you become as a grown-up adult, to be more empathic and open towards other people’s life realities and to serve people in need at homeless shelters, children and families in need, the hungry and the poor . By serving the unfortunate, you are giving a positive contribution from your life to make a difference in someone’s life and are helping them live a better life to show God’s love , grace and sacrifice for people who come from different life backgrounds and situations than you do.
Rachel Jeffery, Fall 2010
Who Knew Tofu Tasted So Good? (blog post)
I didn’t. No offense to the vegans out there; I thought y’all were really missing out on life, but I’ll give this one to you, it tastes preeeetty good.
One of my projects while preparing for the Family Fun Festival was food donations. As you might imagine, it is a bit tricky asking strangers (who make their product for profit) to simply give food away:
“Hey Billy! My name’s Rachel, and I’m calling on behalf of Act Together Ministries. Would you be interested in donating some chimichangas for our Family Fun Festival…Act Together supports children in distress in the North Atlanta Area, one of those struggles being hunger… Approximately 350 people… (laughter)…Yes sir, for free…Yes sir, I absolutely understand; it is a tough economy.”
That fateful Monday afternoon, I must have caught the right Moe’s Manager after the best round of golf of his life, the exhilarating news of his wife expecting their first born boy, and a double bonus check in his hands. Murad Karimi. I was nervous. I hadn’t had much luck at this point, and to make it worse I was unsure the exact pronunciation of his last name; (it could really go a couple different ways.)
He sounded semi-interested, but after speaking with his partner, e-mails, and phone calls, he offered 100 junior burritos! Woohoo! Success!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure any more donations from restaurants. I was obviously disappointed in my lack of coercion skills, and worse I feared this was a huge message in the sky blatantly stating, “Rachel. Honey. You are not cut out for the nonprofit world. Maybe, try politics again, or really…anything else.”
BUT THEN! Saturday arrived. The self-doubt was still pumping through my veins emanating the upcoming defeat, until running almost an hour late, I busted into the door of Moe’s on Windward. It was as if nothing in my world could even affect the calm and collected atmosphere resonating here. Smiles. High Fives. I was beginning to chill out. And then, they pulled out the burritos. 100 beautifully wrapped, well labeled burritos. I didn’t even know they were going to make beef, chicken, and tofu options! Perfection.
I rush to the event with literally no gas in my tank, sucking up fumes and dancing my way right into Fellowship Bible Church. I am here. The burritos are here. Things are going to work out.
And they did. We had over 400 people, and what a success! Clothes galore, bobbing for apples, scarecrow races, obstacle courses, free oil changes, free car washes…it couldn’t get much better than this! Until I starvingly made my way up to the food distribution table.Hmm…what shall I have, what shall I have…Hot dog? Eh. Chips and salsa? Ehh. Tofu Burrito? …
“I’ll have a burrito please.”
“You know its Tofu right?” he patiently explains.
“Sure do! Thanks!”
And I ate it. And it was delicious.
Nikki Melson, Summer 2010
This internship blew all of my expectations out of the water. I grew in my knowledge of at-risk families, of non-profits, of my own skills, and of everything it takes to keep an organization running properly. Most of all, I grew spiritually. With Heather as a mentor and through my involvement with a small group associated with the ministry, my faith has grown immensely. These past few months have proven to be exciting, challenging, frustrating, and simply amazing all at the same time.
My aunt introduced me to Act Together when her church hosted an Easter egg hunt this past April. As she excitedly informed me all about the event and the organization, I was intrigued. I took a glance at the website and knew right away that I wanted to get more involved. So I e-mailed Heather Clark to inquire about a summer internship. Although not something she had done in the past, she was interested, and we took some time to get to know each other a little bit. Soon enough I was hired, and the excitement I felt was indescribable. As my first day approached, I really had no idea what to expect. I certainly hoped to gain new skills, broaden my experience with families going through hard times, and simply better understand how a non-profit runs; but I remained unsure of what the upcoming summer would have in store for me. The first day put all of my jitters at ease, though. Heather’s encouraging e-mails let me know that I could successfully complete the tasks in front of me, despite this being the first time I had ever done some of the things. After spending the day making one frustrating call after another, I gained a new respect for those involved with non-profits (because they must ask for things all of the time), and I learned a lesson in perseverance. I loved it, though!
As the summer progressed, I continued to gain more knowledge and learn valuable lessons concerning so many aspects of life. By conversing with Heather and committing my time to service projects, I had the opportunity to witness the families and children we serve and actually to be able to identify with them. I realized that these children are no different from any other children I have ever been around. They all – whether rich or poor, from whole or broken families, mentally on-track or not – desire to feel loved, have fun and gain as much knowledge as possible. I simply fell in love with them.
Feeling more connected to the community, I was even more excited to plan the big back-to-school event we had in August. Never before had I put something like that together, so I learned a lot about what it takes to successfully pull something like this off. I really enjoyed making calls to obtain volunteers to help out and to ask different businesses for aid (for instance, to ask for pizza discounts). It was hard work, but I simply had a blast helping prepare for a day that I knew would be magical for the families and children that we serve.
I thank Heather and the board for giving me the opportunity to work with them and the families for welcoming me with open arms. I will certainly stay in touch!