Here at Greater Birmingham Ministries, we are undertaking reflection and conversation around how best to fulfill our mission of serving people, pursuing justice, and building community. This is an important process, and one that must go on continually within any organization that seeks to do these things. The world is changing around us every day, and we are called to respond to challenges with fresh eyes and new tools.
But one thing at GBM never changes: compassion — for everyone who comes to the door, no matter their circumstances.
I joined the GBM staff in 2008 but came first four-plus years ago as a volunteer. At the time, GBM was developing what is now the Alabama Faith Council, one of many organizations we have birthed over the years. I attended a Steering Committee meeting and was hooked immediately on the idea of a group of faithful people standing with the marginalized in our society, and I hung around to help George with the day-to-day groundwork necessary to launch the AFC.
I’ll come out of the closet right now and admit to being a child of privilege. My parents were part of the new middle class that came into being after World War II, and they provided everything my brother and I needed. Until 2007, I had never really known great pain or struggle. In short order, my father lost his year-long battle with lung cancer and my brother died suddenly at 50. My family of origin had been cut in half, and I was left stunned and in pain.
My GBM friends embraced me, as they do so many, and they held me up during a time when it felt like everything else was collapsing. These are people who have experienced pain and loss in their own lives and, rather than shutting down, have chosen to reach out to others who need their support.
For me, as for so many others, GBM is a place of refuge. We don’t have all the financial resources we need to help everyone who comes to our door, but we have open arms and hearts full of compassion. The people at GBM save lives every day, and mine was one of them.