Time In Need Means Time To Serve

Facing Homelessness from Brenau University (Gainesville, Georgia)

Silvia Tefore

Age 73

When I was a little girl I always dreamed that when I got older, I would do something where I could help others. Growing up in the south was hard, but growing up without people there for you was even harder. I have always been privileged to have everything I needed. My family was not the richest, but we sure did not struggle how I see some people struggling today. When I used to wake up in my little town right outside of Savannah, Georgia, I would see people begging for food outside of town. They did not have anywhere to go and they did not know when their next meal was going to be. Back then it was hard enough to get food on the table for everyone’s families so people did not often give, or help those in need.

I hated seeing people homeless and starving and I always wished there was something I could do to make it easier for them. When I was a little girl, I had no money, and everything I did have my parents were the one’s who provided it for me. But that still did not stop my determination to help others. When I was older I promised myself that I would work somewhere that helped families find homes so that no family would have to struggle and wonder where their next meal was coming from again, well at least not on my watch. When I got older I found out that my love for volunteering was something I wanted to act upon even more. I started volunteering my time at church called First United Methodist. I was the senior director there and acted as a liaison between the church and our members of the board. And that’s where my true love for volunteering began, but I still felt like there was more I could do.

I soon retired from there, and decided I wanted to volunteer somewhere I could help people that may not have the same resources as me. So I started working at Legacy Link, which focuses on senior citizens and making sure they are taken care of and have the best opportunities. It was a great experience. I worked there for about five or six years, but I still wanted to do more and help more. I wanted to help people so that I would not see what I saw when I was a child. I searched on the internet for places that I could volunteer that were food and homeless shelters. The only place I could find was this organization called Family Promise that had only been open for about six months. I went in there and told them how passionate I was about helping families get back on their feet, so I started volunteering every Wednesday.

I have seen so many people walk in these doors wanting help and wanting a change in their life and they got it at Family Promise. There is a strict program they have to go through, but it is worth it because after their 90 days with us, they usually have a job and have somewhere to stay. It is amazing how much they and their families grow in such a short amount of time. There are so many successful people that have been through The Family Promise program and they are so different now. It is amazing to get so many great results. Which is why I am so happy that I found this organization to work at. Every Wednesday when I come here it is a new adventure and there are always new memories to be made.

Even though as I child I felt like there was nothing I could do, I feel like now I am making the real impact. As I look back on my life I am proud to have always served my community in any way I could. It honestly gives me so much joy.

Told by: Simone Lewis

This story originally appeared in Facing Homelessness in Hall County, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.

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