Stories of Impact- Portraits of Promise

Thousands of lives have been impacted since Christian City was founded in 1965 by a group of concerned citizens who built the first cottage for eight boys in need of a loving home. From the children and seniors who have lived at Christian City to volunteers, staff members, church families, and people of the community who have financially supported our ministries over more than five decades, there are many true stories of lives changed, promises delivered, faith strengthened, and hope received.

Today, Christian City is full of opportunities for people to live, thrive, get involved, serve and give. Here are a few of their stories in their own words.

ACTIVE SENIOR RESIDENTS AND VOLUNTEERS

Raenelle and Bob Stockmeier – Patio Home Residents Since 2010

Read the Stockmeiers’ Story

The big brown bus rolled into the Dairy Queen parking lot. Shrieks of joy from 13 elementary school age girls (and one little boy) reverberated throughout the cavernous Dodge van! A wonderful surprise…

The Stockmeiers’ Slideshow

[click to view larger]

Watch the Stockmeiers’ Video

[double-click to expand]

Read More

…visit to America’s ice cream fantasy land! The girls (and one little boy) were relishing the thought of tasty treats! But then the driver swerved back onto the road that led to home; Christian City, Flint cottage. The girls (and one little boy) were crestfallen, but they knew Dad Stockmeier loved to joke with them.

God works in mysterious ways and is not shy about turning us completely around to travel in another direction to do the work He bids us to do. I was in my sixth year of public school teaching, building a solid career. My wife, Rae, our children, my parents (Bob and Jeanette), sister Janice, and brother Terry were all living in the town where I was born and raised. I had not even the smallest thought of leaving Ohio. None.

But then . . . My father died suddenly only two years after my youngest brother, Leslie, had died in an automobile accident. I felt like I needed to be somewhere else – maybe just for a while. When I look back, I see that God was turning me in the life direction that He had purposed for me since being formed in Jeanette Stockmeier’s womb.

Ray and Annelle Black, Rae’s parents, were some of the first house parents at Christian City Home for Children in the 1960s. They were the beloved “Dad” and “Mom” to a home full of younger boys and later to the older girls. Having known Bob (Christian City’s first Executive Director) and Doreen Puckett and Jack Roebuck (Superintendent), my father-in-law arranged an interview and we were hired as house parents in the early 1970s. In a short time, we came to love Jack. He loved God. And he loved the house parents. Jack had a special love in his heart and soul for Christian City’s children. We learned from Jack to strive to love these children as God did. They were family. He saw loving house parents as essential in the familial lives and development of our divinely placed children. I remember Jack saying in a house parents’ meeting that “If house parents need something, and we don’t have it, we need to go out and dig a hole to find it.”

I was a “Yankee” in Georgia! A vivid memory from my first days in Georgia (Raenelle is Georgia-born and cultured, a “preacher’s kid,” — she really is a Georgia peach) a little guy from a nearby cottage walked up to this stranger and asked me, “Is this you-alser’s house?” I knew I was in the south! I can show you the spot today, after almost 50 years, where this cute little guy asked his question! Although it took a little time for the indigenous folks and myself to fully understand each other, we all had good-natured fun with one another.

Summarizing our years as Christian City house-parents brings back many memories. With great fondness, I remember managing the Union City “Colts” baseball team for 11 and 12-year-old boys. 1973 was an especially good year; we won the local Georgia Amateur Baseball League title! Another house parent, Clyde Moore, was the coach and one of his sons, Danny, was on the team. Danny is all grown up now and works at Christian City.

Raenelle and I grew and matured in the Lord at Christian City. Our sense of love of family expanded to include all 13 girls (and one little boy). Three of those girls were our daughters, and, the one little boy on the bus? Our tow-headed son. I remember shopping trips in the early ‘70s to the Richway store on Old National Highway. People did a double-take when they heard 14 children call us “Mom” and “Dad!” That was special to both of us.

After serving as house parents at Christian City for three years, I returned to the classroom and taught junior high and senior high history and geography for the next 38 years at Christian schools in Georgia. I loved the children and loved my subject matter. Sometimes in class I would stop talking, pause, and then address the high schoolers: “Wow! – Look at this! I’m being paid to do what I love so much—talking about History!”

And now a little bit from “Little Bit” (Rae):

While Bob was having fun teaching, I worked at Southern Bell/BellSouth and later was a deputy clerk for the Commissioner of Roads and Revenue, and even later as Assistant City Clerk in a town outside of Athens. Then, somehow, time, as it often does, sneaked up on us and we “retired” in 2011.

Where to go? Not much time was spent on the “where.” We would retire to a place that we loved – Christian City! Back home! Our new neighbors quickly extended invitations to their church homes. We live in the Harper Valley community at Christian City and believe it is a very special place to live. (I am sure that others feel that way about their own Christian City community – there are four patio home communities and four apartment complexes.)

We all look out for one another. We’re following the two greatest commandments found in God’s Word when we love the Lord our God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We desire to serve the Lord here at this time and in this place as many of our neighbors do the same. Volunteer service fulfills a very important part of the day-to-day needs at Christian City, especially now that the campus has grown to hundreds of acres.

When we were here in the ‘70s, Red Oak Road was a dirt road to Highway 138. There were few senior patio homes, no welcome center, no apartments, no assisted living facility, no rehab or skilled nursing center, no thrift store, and no Children’s Village of today—just four cottages housing the Home for Children.

Today, all of these places use volunteers on a daily basis—in some cases, the need is for someone to just give a smile, a word of encouragement, or a listening ear. You don’t have to sing, play the piano, dance, or give a speech—just the giving of your time and presence is a present given in love to Christian City’s residents.

I enjoy volunteering to play the piano and sing at the Wednesday morning Bible study in the Christian City Assisted Living Center’s Memory Care floor. It brings such joy to me when one of the residents recognizes a song and begins to sing the words! Joy! This is a part of being a volunteer with the Spiritual Care office and it is a great place in which to volunteer. (Bob’s parents had a 30-resident nursing home in Ohio—’reckon that’s where we got our love of ministering to our senior community!)

My part-time work at Lester Road Christian Church (just up the hill from Christian City) keeps me busy during the week, but I still have time before our church’s worship service on Sunday mornings to volunteer at Fairburn Health Care where Bob teaches Bible truths to the residents and I lead the singing. The residents are precious people and souls there, too. Precious souls are everywhere! It is my privilege to minister to God’s children here at Christian City and at FHC.

More from Bob:  

A favorite volunteer ministry of mine, aided by Rae, Myrna Johnson (Life Enrichment Director) and her wonderful CNAs, is the weekly People’s Club event, which was created for the spiritual, social and artistic enrichment of senior residents not only at Christian City, but also for those in the senior retirement neighborhoods that surround Christian City.

We have speakers, musicians, singers, preachers, motivational speakers, authors, public servants, and many other great folks in the People’s Club lineup. For their ministry, we thank each featured speaker/entertainer for giving their time and talent for the benefit of our residents. For many Christian City residents, People’s Club is a chance to gather with neighbors to socialize, be entertained and learn something!

Yes—we loved Christian City in the 1970s and we love Christian City today. We are blessed to live among residents, staff and leaders who strive to love our neighbors as God commands.

Truly, the Lord was, and still is, in this place called Christian City!

ACTIVE SENIOR RESIDENTS AND VOLUNTEERS

Raenelle and Bob Stockmeier – Patio Home Residents Since 2010

Read the Stockmeiers’ Story

The big brown bus rolled into the Dairy Queen parking lot. Shrieks of joy from 13 elementary school age girls (and one little boy) reverberated throughout the cavernous Dodge van! A wonderful surprise…

Read More

…visit to America’s ice cream fantasy land! The girls (and one little boy) were relishing the thought of tasty treats! But then the driver swerved back onto the road that led to home; Christian City, Flint cottage. The girls (and one little boy) were crestfallen, but they knew Dad Stockmeier loved to joke with them.

God works in mysterious ways and is not shy about turning us completely around to travel in another direction to do the work He bids us to do. I was in my sixth year of public school teaching, building a solid career. My wife, Rae, our children, my parents (Bob and Jeanette), sister Janice, and brother Terry were all living in the town where I was born and raised. I had not even the smallest thought of leaving Ohio. None.

But then . . . My father died suddenly only two years after my youngest brother, Leslie, had died in an automobile accident. I felt like I needed to be somewhere else – maybe just for a while. When I look back, I see that God was turning me in the life direction that He had purposed for me since being formed in Jeanette Stockmeier’s womb.

Ray and Annelle Black, Rae’s parents, were some of the first house parents at Christian City Home for Children in the 1960s. They were the beloved “Dad” and “Mom” to a home full of younger boys and later to the older girls. Having known Bob (Christian City’s first Executive Director) and Doreen Puckett and Jack Roebuck (Superintendent), my father-in-law arranged an interview and we were hired as house parents in the early 1970s. In a short time, we came to love Jack. He loved God. And he loved the house parents. Jack had a special love in his heart and soul for Christian City’s children. We learned from Jack to strive to love these children as God did. They were family. He saw loving house parents as essential in the familial lives and development of our divinely placed children. I remember Jack saying in a house parents’ meeting that “If house parents need something, and we don’t have it, we need to go out and dig a hole to find it.”

I was a “Yankee” in Georgia! A vivid memory from my first days in Georgia (Raenelle is Georgia-born and cultured, a “preacher’s kid,” — she really is a Georgia peach) a little guy from a nearby cottage walked up to this stranger and asked me, “Is this you-alser’s house?” I knew I was in the south! I can show you the spot today, after almost 50 years, where this cute little guy asked his question! Although it took a little time for the indigenous folks and myself to fully understand each other, we all had good-natured fun with one another.

Summarizing our years as Christian City house-parents brings back many memories. With great fondness, I remember managing the Union City “Colts” baseball team for 11 and 12-year-old boys. 1973 was an especially good year; we won the local Georgia Amateur Baseball League title! Another house parent, Clyde Moore, was the coach and one of his sons, Danny, was on the team. Danny is all grown up now and works at Christian City.

Raenelle and I grew and matured in the Lord at Christian City. Our sense of love of family expanded to include all 13 girls (and one little boy). Three of those girls were our daughters, and, the one little boy on the bus? Our tow-headed son. I remember shopping trips in the early ‘70s to the Richway store on Old National Highway. People did a double-take when they heard 14 children call us “Mom” and “Dad!” That was special to both of us.

After serving as house parents at Christian City for three years, I returned to the classroom and taught junior high and senior high history and geography for the next 38 years at Christian schools in Georgia. I loved the children and loved my subject matter. Sometimes in class I would stop talking, pause, and then address the high schoolers: “Wow! – Look at this! I’m being paid to do what I love so much—talking about History!”

And now a little bit from “Little Bit” (Rae):

While Bob was having fun teaching, I worked at Southern Bell/BellSouth and later was a deputy clerk for the Commissioner of Roads and Revenue, and even later as Assistant City Clerk in a town outside of Athens. Then, somehow, time, as it often does, sneaked up on us and we “retired” in 2010.

Where to go? Not much time was spent on the “where.” We would retire to a place that we loved – Christian City! Back home! Our new neighbors quickly extended invitations to their church homes. We live in the Harper Valley community at Christian City and believe it is a very special place to live. (I am sure that others feel that way about their own Christian City community – there are four patio home communities and four apartment complexes.)

We all look out for one another. We’re following the two greatest commandments found in God’s Word when we love the Lord our God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We desire to serve the Lord here at this time and in this place as many of our neighbors do the same. Volunteer service fulfills a very important part of the day-to-day needs at Christian City, especially now that the campus has grown to hundreds of acres.

When we were here in the ‘70s, Red Oak Road was a dirt road to Highway 138. There were few senior patio homes, no welcome center, no apartments, no assisted living facility, no rehab or skilled nursing center, no thrift store, and no Children’s Village of today—just four cottages housing the Home for Children.

Today, all of these places use volunteers on a daily basis—in some cases, the need is for someone to just give a smile, a word of encouragement, or a listening ear. You don’t have to sing, play the piano, dance, or give a speech—just the giving of your time and presence is a present given in love to Christian City’s residents.

I enjoy volunteering to play the piano and sing at the Wednesday morning Bible study in the Christian City Assisted Living Center’s Memory Care floor. It brings such joy to me when one of the residents recognizes a song and begins to sing the words! Joy! This is a part of being a volunteer with the Spiritual Care office and it is a great place in which to volunteer. (Bob’s parents had a 30-resident nursing home in Ohio—’reckon that’s where we got our love of ministering to our senior community!)

My part-time work at Lester Road Christian Church (just up the hill from Christian City) keeps me busy during the week, but I still have time before our church’s worship service on Sunday mornings to volunteer at Fairburn Health Care where Bob teaches Bible truths to the residents and I lead the singing. The residents are precious people and souls there, too. Precious souls are everywhere! It is my privilege to minister to God’s children here at Christian City and at FHC.

More from Bob:  

A favorite volunteer ministry of mine, aided by Rae, Myrna Johnson (Life Enrichment Director) and her wonderful CNAs, is the weekly People’s Club event, which was created for the spiritual, social and artistic enrichment of senior residents not only at Christian City, but also for those in the senior retirement neighborhoods that surround Christian City.

We have speakers, musicians, singers, preachers, motivational speakers, authors, public servants, and many other great folks in the People’s Club lineup. For their ministry, we thank each featured speaker/entertainer for giving their time and talent for the benefit of our residents. For many Christian City residents, People’s Club is a chance to gather with neighbors to socialize, be entertained and learn something!

Yes—we loved Christian City in the 1970s and we love Christian City today. We are blessed to live among residents, staff and leaders who strive to love our neighbors as God commands.

Truly, the Lord was, and still is, in this place called Christian City!

The Stockmeiers’ Slideshow

Watch the Stockmeiers’ Video

RESIDENT OF CHILDREN’S VILLAGE – 2002 to 2012

Ben Parham – “I came to Christian City on Mother’s Day….”

Read Ben’s Story

I was 9 years old when I came to Christian City on Mother’s Day in 2002. There were four of us – my older brother who was 13, my 11-year-old sister, and…

Ben’s Slideshow

[click to view larger]

Watch Ben’s Video

[double-click to expand]

Read More

…my younger brother who was 5.  We were taken out of a very messy home, and I came to Christian City with just a black bag of clothes. It was very sad at the time, but now I know it was for the better.

A year after being at Christian City, my grandma passed away. If we had stayed with her instead of going to Christian City, we would have been homeless after her death. I realized then that Christian City was for the better.

But, Christian City was different. We had a much bigger family there, and it took about a year or two of getting used to living with a bigger family. And we all went to private school, which was great. I went to private school from 6th grade up to graduation – Bedford through middle school and Lighthouse for high school. The camps were awesome, too.  I loved WinShape Camp and Squirrel Hollow Camp.

We went to church every Sunday when I lived at Christian City. I went to Peachtree City Christian Church and was involved in some of the youth activities. Going to church every Sunday was new to me, but I liked it. I got to meet new friends and a lot of people.

While at Christian City, I lived in two of the first cottages built in the 1960s – Flint Cottage and Price Cottage. They were made of cinderblock. Flint Cottage is now the new Recreation Center for retired seniors who live at Christian City. I was able to walk through it while it was being remodeled in 2018.

The Children’s Village of today was built during the time I was living at Christian City.  The new cottages were awesome! The buildings were all new with the latest designs, including drywall instead of cinderblock. Our furniture was new, too. I actually moved into the first new cottage that was built, and the open floorplan made a big difference. We had a study area with three new computers instead of one computer for eight people to use like at the older cottages.

When I think about what life was like at Christian City, I remember pushing the grocery carts when the family went shopping at Sam’s Club, Walmart or Kroger. We always needed several carts! A typical day for our family with Mom and Dad Cater began with getting up in the morning and getting into the van to go to school. After we were picked up from school, we went home and did homework. Afterwards, sometimes I’d leave with Dad Cater to pick up kids who played sports. We’d come back home and Mom Cater fixed dinner. Mom and Dad Cater were good cooks, and I learned a little bit about cooking from them.

After dinner, we had to do chores. Each person had an assigned chore for a week.  I’d clear the table, load the dishwasher, and wash dishes. I didn’t like that part. Doing dishes was my least favorite chore, but I didn’t mind vacuuming, because it was easy with the big open floor plan of the house.

Mom and Dad Cater cared about us kids. If we needed something, they helped us get it.  They were easy to talk to. If I had a hard day at school, I could talk to Mom and Dad Cater and they would help me calm down.

I volunteered at Graceland Thrift Store at Christian City when I was 15. We weren’t paid, but we got an allowance. One important thing I learned at Christian City was to save money. I was taught to work for what I wanted, and money was put into a savings account. I still do that. It is true that you value things more when you work for them.

After I graduated from high school, I moved over into the graduate transition apartment located on the older campus at Christian City. I lived there for 6 months. I’m 26 now, and I’ve been in Florida for 7 years. Life was moving along pretty good until last year when I lost my home in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael, a category 4 storm.

My wife, Brittany, and I were engaged at the time. She is a police officer, and she was still on duty when I was told to evacuate. All our belongings had been placed upstairs in our house with only flooding expected. Brittany was told to evacuate the next day, and we rode out the storm together in a hotel in Dothan, Alabama, watching CNN the whole time.

When we saw the news the next morning with overhead footage of the destruction, we knew everything was gone and we had nothing to go back to. The 100-mile drive from Dothan to Mexico Beach took 13 hours. We salvaged some stuff – a toy box, some memorabilia, and I got some of my work clothes out of the rubble.

In November, we decided to get married on the slab where our home had been located. We cut down trees and found wood in the rubble to make the benches, and everything for our wedding was donated, including food. Brittany’s dress was donated from Bainbridge, Georgia, where she grew up. Our photographer came all the way from Orlando. She heard about our story and wanted to take free wedding photos for us.

Everything was set up the day of the wedding, and it was a major hit. Brittany’s police sergeant performed the ceremony. Since we didn’t have electricity, our music was played from a police intercom and a phone. Even the police chief got involved. Since there were no street signs, the chief and a fellow officer put his police car at the top of the road to mark where our wedding was being held.

It was different, but I would not change a thing. It was memorable, and it made news headlines! It was closure for us to get married on the foundation slab. Brittany described our wedding as being “from the end of an era to a new beginning.” That made sense to me.

We’ve decided to move 15 minutes inland. A friend bought the land for us, and we just closed on the property. We’ll have a modular home placed on it and go from there.

I’m a volunteer firefighter, and my paying job is with the Mexico Beach public works department. My job is to dredge the mouth of the canal to make boaters happy. Right now, we have no boaters, because of the storm. I dredge the canal to keep it open, so water keeps flowing out.

When I first came to Florida and took a job in the City public works department, my boss asked if I knew how to operate a barge. When I said I didn’t, he told me I was about to learn. I’ve been operating a barge for seven years now. I know the position very well, but I’ve also worked every position in the city. For the past two months, I’ve been working in the sewer and water department. I can do every position, and my goal is to move up in city employment.

I credit my time at Christian City with preparing me to be a good employee and hard worker. When people ask me where I grew up, I tell them I grew up at Christian City, a foster home in Union City, Georgia. I get asked that a lot down here in Florida. I learned a lot from being at Christian City. If I hadn’t been there, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today.

I still enjoy church in Florida like I did at Christian City. My church here was destroyed in the storm, but I have a new home church. It takes me an hour to drive there, and sometimes we miss because of our work schedules. It’s so important to have a church family when you’re going through hard times.

If I were asked to talk to a 9-year-old boy who had just come to Christian City to live, I would let him know the house parents are there for him. I would tell him it may be hard for a couple of months, but it will get better and he’ll make friends. There’s always somebody he can talk to. I’d let him know it’s going to be okay, because I’ve been there. I remember what it’s like.

See TV story about Ben Parham’s unique wedding on slab of his
hurricane-devastated home.

RESIDENT OF CHILDREN’S VILLAGE – 2002 to 2012

Ben Parham – “I came to Christian City on Mother’s Day….”

Read Ben’s Story

I was 9 years old when I came to Christian City on Mother’s Day in 2002. There were four of us – my older brother who was 13, my 11-year-old sister, and…

Read More

…and my younger brother who was 5.  We were taken out of a very messy home, and I came to Christian City with just a black bag of clothes. It was very sad at the time, but now I know it was for the better.

A year after being at Christian City, my grandma passed away. If we had stayed with her instead of going to Christian City, we would have been homeless after her death. I realized then that Christian City was for the better.

But, Christian City was different. We had a much bigger family there, and it took about a year or two of getting used to living with a bigger family. And we all went to private school, which was great. I went to private school from 6th grade up to graduation – Bedford through middle school and Lighthouse for high school. The camps were awesome, too.  I loved WinShape Camp and Squirrel Hollow Camp.

We went to church every Sunday when I lived at Christian City. I went to Peachtree City Christian Church and was involved in some of the youth activities. Going to church every Sunday was new to me, but I liked it. I got to meet new friends and a lot of people.

While at Christian City, I lived in two of the first cottages built in the 1960s – Flint Cottage and Price Cottage. They were made of cinderblock. Flint Cottage is now the new Recreation Center for retired seniors who live at Christian City. I was able to walk through it while it was being remodeled in 2018.

The Children’s Village of today was built during the time I was living at Christian City.  The new cottages were awesome! The buildings were all new with the latest designs, including drywall instead of cinderblock. Our furniture was new, too. I actually moved into the first new cottage that was built, and the open floorplan made a big difference. We had a study area with three new computers instead of one computer for eight people to use like at the older cottages.

When I think about what life was like at Christian City, I remember pushing the grocery carts when the family went shopping at Sam’s Club, Walmart or Kroger. We always needed several carts! A typical day for our family with Mom and Dad Cater began with getting up in the morning and getting into the van to go to school. After we were picked up from school, we went home and did homework. Afterwards, sometimes I’d leave with Dad Cater to pick up kids who played sports. We’d come back home and Mom Cater fixed dinner. Mom and Dad Cater were good cooks, and I learned a little bit about cooking from them.

After dinner, we had to do chores. Each person had an assigned chore for a week.  I’d clear the table, load the dishwasher, and wash dishes. I didn’t like that part. Doing dishes was my least favorite chore, but I didn’t mind vacuuming, because it was easy with the big open floor plan of the house.

Mom and Dad Cater cared about us kids. If we needed something, they helped us get it.  They were easy to talk to. If I had a hard day at school, I could talk to Mom and Dad Cater and they would help me calm down.

I volunteered at Graceland Thrift Store at Christian City when I was 15. We weren’t paid, but we got an allowance. One important thing I learned at Christian City was to save money. I was taught to work for what I wanted, and money was put into a savings account. I still do that. It is true that you value things more when you work for them.

After I graduated from high school, I moved over into the graduate transition apartment located on the older campus at Christian City. I lived there for 6 months. I’m 26 now, and I’ve been in Florida for 7 years. Life was moving along pretty good until last year when I lost my home in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael, a category 4 storm.

My wife, Brittany, and I were engaged at the time. She is a police officer, and she was still on duty when I was told to evacuate. All our belongings had been placed upstairs in our house with only flooding expected. Brittany was told to evacuate the next day, and we rode out the storm together in a hotel in Dothan, Alabama, watching CNN the whole time.

When we saw the news the next morning with overhead footage of the destruction, we knew everything was gone and we had nothing to go back to. The 100-mile drive from Dothan to Mexico Beach took 13 hours. We salvaged some stuff – a toy box, some memorabilia, and I got some of my work clothes out of the rubble.

In November, we decided to get married on the slab where our home had been located. We cut down trees and found wood in the rubble to make the benches, and everything for our wedding was donated, including food. Brittany’s dress was donated from Bainbridge, Georgia, where she grew up. Our photographer came all the way from Orlando. She heard about our story and wanted to take free wedding photos for us.

Everything was set up the day of the wedding, and it was a major hit. Brittany’s police sergeant performed the ceremony. Since we didn’t have electricity, our music was played from a police intercom and a phone. Even the police chief got involved. Since there were no street signs, the chief and a fellow officer put his police car at the top of the road to mark where our wedding was being held.

It was different, but I would not change a thing. It was memorable, and it made news headlines! It was closure for us to get married on the foundation slab. Brittany described our wedding as being “from the end of an era to a new beginning.” That made sense to me.

We’ve decided to move 15 minutes inland. A friend bought the land for us, and we just closed on the property. We’ll have a modular home placed on it and go from there.

I’m a volunteer firefighter, and my paying job is with the Mexico Beach public works department. My job is to dredge the mouth of the canal to make boaters happy. Right now, we have no boaters, because of the storm. I dredge the canal to keep it open, so water keeps flowing out.

When I first came to Florida and took a job in the City public works department, my boss asked if I knew how to operate a barge. When I said I didn’t, he told me I was about to learn. I’ve been operating a barge for seven years now. I know the position very well, but I’ve also worked every position in the city. For the past two months, I’ve been working in the sewer and water department. I can do every position, and my goal is to move up in city employment.

I credit my time at Christian City with preparing me to be a good employee and hard worker. When people ask me where I grew up, I tell them I grew up at Christian City, a foster home in Union City, Georgia. I get asked that a lot down here in Florida. I learned a lot from being at Christian City. If I hadn’t been there, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today.

I still enjoy church in Florida like I did at Christian City. My church here was destroyed in the storm, but I have a new home church. It takes me an hour to drive there, and sometimes we miss because of our work schedules. It’s so important to have a church family when you’re going through hard times.

If I were asked to talk to a 9-year-old boy who had just come to Christian City to live, I would let him know the house parents are there for him. I would tell him it may be hard for a couple of months, but it will get better and he’ll make friends. There’s always somebody he can talk to. I’d let him know it’s going to be okay, because I’ve been there. I remember what it’s like.

See TV story about Ben Parham’s unique wedding on slab of his
hurricane-devastated home.

Ben’s Slideshow

Watch Ben’s Video

PHILANTHROPISTS & CHRISTIAN CITY SUPPORTERS

Marie & Steve Swope – A Marriage Strengthened by Serving Together

Read the Q & A with Marie & Steve Swope

You celebrated your 41st wedding anniversary in 2018. How did you meet and how has serving together impacted your marriage over the years…

The Swopes’ Slideshow

[click to view larger]

Watch Their Video

[double-click to expand]

Read More

Marie:
We met when we were 16 working at the same department store in Atlanta. We went to different high schools. After graduation, Steve went to Georgia Southern College, and I went to Georgia State. After a year, he came back to Atlanta and enrolled at Georgia State. We got married in our junior year, and both graduated from Georgia State with bachelor’s degrees in marketing. Steve went to work at Delta Air Lines and I went to work for a chemical company.

Steve:
Together, we’ve always served by doing things for other people. We do that within the context of our church, our community, our family and our friends. That’s one reason Marie and I have such a strong connection. We’ve both got the same mindset about service. We serve others because that’s how we were raised, and we tried to raise our kids the same way.

What’s your philosophy about the best way to make an impact through philanthropy?

Steve:
I really do believe when it comes to giving, everything we do is for ourselves and for someone else. When you do something for someone else, it involves sacrifice because you could be doing something for yourself instead.  As we in life have come to understand, one of the greatest pleasures is doing things for other people.  It does call for sacrifice, and you’re not willing to sacrifice unless you care. Once you care about something, it’s easy to sacrifice. You see it many times with tutoring, charitable giving, people that do volunteer work. It’s because they care about that cause, they care about that person.  They’re willing to give of themselves. Whether it’s their time, or their skill, or their financial resources, giving always involves a sacrifice. What value does life have if you keep everything for yourself? The more you love something, the more you’ll sacrifice for it.

Marie:
We’ve always done good things. We’ve always volunteered. When the sale of the second company came along, it enabled us to do the major things. And I had way more time to fill than I had before the kids were grown. That’s when I got involved with the GED and Literacy program in Newnan. I’ve been volunteering now for 17 years, and it is the best thing I do every week.

Steve:
Throughout our entire married life, we’ve always given of ourselves and financially to the degree we could.  Even when we first got married, we did things in our church community mostly. When we moved to Newnan, we began to get more involved. We’ve always supported charities, church work, and schools to the degree we could. I don’t think we’ve changed. But what has changed is our capacity to do good.  We can have a bigger impact than we could have otherwise.

Marie:
The Bible says, “the more someone is given, the more that is expected of them.”  I believe those of us who are given a lot have a responsibility to give back. Steve and I treat ourselves pretty well, but we don’t to the detriment of other people. That’s how we got started giving in a bigger way. We made the decision to Biblically tithe, and we took 10 percent of what we made on the sale of the company and set it aside to go to charity.  We decided to support local charities and most of them are dealing with children.

I feel strongly about this: it’s easy to write a check, and we could have said, “we’ll just write a check,” to all of these different organizations. It’s much harder to give of yourself, but that’s what we do. We don’t just write checks. We’re on the ground and working.

What motivates you to support children’s charities in particular?

Steve:
Probably 95 percent of what we do is targeted to children and vulnerable people within our community.  When Marie said the most enjoyable thing for her during the week is the GED program, mine is when we go to the Title I school on Wednesday and tutor kids for a couple of hours. We’re in our third year now.  The kids remember who we are, and we only see them once or twice a month. There were 25 we worked with last year. They come running down the hall when they see us, and we love working with them. Some of them say they only want to work with the “boy” Swope, not the “girl” Swope.

Marie:
These are children who desperately need attention, and they’re struggling on so many levels. They’re food insecure, need clothing, sleeping on one cousin’s couch this week and another cousin’s couch the next, or in need of a bath. It’s really tough, but these kids are so optimistic.

You mentioned being involved with your church community throughout your marriage. How have you grown through serving your church?

Steve:
I was raised a Methodist, but when I was 17, I converted to become a Roman Catholic. I went to mass a couple of times with Marie during our early dating years. When I was at Georgia Southern, a couple of my friends were Catholic.  I went to church with them a few times, and I met with a priest in Stone Mountain. I found a depth in the Catholic church that I didn’t have previously. Maybe it was just that I was too immature to understand. So I became Catholic, and we’ve been very faithful churchgoers ever since we got married. Marie’s dad is a deacon, and in 2002 our pastor asked me if I was interested in becoming a deacon. I applied, started in 2003, went through the 5 years of formation and in February 2008, I was ordained.

Shortly thereafter, I was told the archbishop wanted to meet with me. They wanted me to be director of the formation program for all the permanent deacons. I told them I couldn’t do it, because I was CEO of a company. I had a full-time job, and there was no way that was going to work. The archbishop suggested I go home and pray about it. On the way home, I called Marie who reminded me I had been thinking about getting out of business and maybe this was my path out. I took that job. From 2008 to 2011, I had my full-time job as CEO of my company, and part-time job for the archdiocese. God graciously helped us sell the company. Then I went to work full-time for the archdiocese. In that capacity, I’ve done a lot of things, and I was director of formation for the permanent diaconate for a little over five years.

When Joseph Mitchell died, who was Margaret Mitchell’s nephew, he gave his entire estate to the archdiocese. The archbishop asked me to take that over. Up until last year, I was CEO of the company that had control over the book rights for Gone with the Wind. We still have control over all of Margaret Mitchell’s personal effects, including her press card, library card, Atlanta Journal Constitution employee ID, and driver’s license. Those effects are in our climate-controlled archives, but I’ve been working diligently with UGA, the Smithsonian, and Atlanta History Center, because the artifacts are important to the City of Atlanta. I was at St. George for 32 years, and last year I was transferred and assigned to St. Mary Magdalene in Newnan.

While your family has been connected to Christian City for many years, you became involved just recently. What prompted your engagement?

Marie:
I’ve always known Christian City was here because my mother volunteered here for over 20 years. Last year, we came to realize what Christian City means to children who could otherwise have a different life story. They could be on the streets, or they could be living in abusive or neglectful situations and perpetuate yet another generation of people who are impoverished or uneducated. Christian City gives these children the chance to break that cycle. The truth is the only way out of poverty is to break the cycle, to give these children another opportunity, and being educated is the biggest opportunity.

Steve:
We visited Christian City, and LaVann gave us the tour. We met the house parents and toured one of the homes while the children were at school.  We found out this is “real.” It is awesome. It’s an effective program, something that works. Everyone we met were genuinely good people with the interest of the folks who live here in mind. It fits perfectly with what we want to do.

Marie:
The Children’s Village is home. You feel the love, and you see the message. In society, we see the breakdown of families. What Christian City does is give that back. We can think what we want about society changing, but the bottom line is children still need families. Family doesn’t have to look like it looked when Steve and I grew up in suburbia with a mom and a dad, but that concept of family must be there.

I think that’s one of the important messages that Christian City sends out, too – that society is changing, but we’ve got to have families. Children must have a family. And sometimes they find their family at Christian City. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so enamored with Christian City and what is being done. It’s the fact that we can change children’s life stories.

What’s the next step for you in your engagement with Christian City?

Steve:
We invited people to last year’s Drive and Dine, and they were moved when the event co-chairs, Anne and Taylor Josey, spoke. It struck them and touched their hearts. They were moved to give, and perhaps they will go out, inform and invite others.

Marie:
It’s now our responsibility to inform people. Christian City needs assistance. Any non-profit needs money, and it’s our job to let people know that this place does exist, and that Christian City is a worthy organization to support.

PHILANTHROPISTS & CHRISTIAN CITY SUPPORTERS

Q & A with Marie & Steve Swope – A Marriage Strengthened by Serving Together

Read Steve & Marie Swopes’ Q & A

You celebrated your 41st wedding anniversary in 2018. How did you meet and how has serving together impacted your marriage over the years…

Read More

Marie:
We met when we were 16 working at the same department store in Atlanta. We went to different high schools. After graduation, Steve went to Georgia Southern College, and I went to Georgia State. After a year, he came back to Atlanta and enrolled at Georgia State. We got married in our junior year, and both graduated from Georgia State with bachelor’s degrees in marketing. Steve went to work at Delta Air Lines and I went to work for a chemical company.

Steve:
Together, we’ve always served by doing things for other people. We do that within the context of our church, our community, our family and our friends. That’s one reason Marie and I have such a strong connection. We’ve both got the same mindset about service. We serve others because that’s how we were raised, and we tried to raise our kids the same way.

What’s your philosophy about the best way to make an impact through philanthropy?

Steve:
I really do believe when it comes to giving, everything we do is for ourselves and for someone else. When you do something for someone else, it involves sacrifice because you could be doing something for yourself instead.  As we in life have come to understand, one of the greatest pleasures is doing things for other people.  It does call for sacrifice, and you’re not willing to sacrifice unless you care. Once you care about something, it’s easy to sacrifice. You see it many times with tutoring, charitable giving, people that do volunteer work. It’s because they care about that cause, they care about that person.  They’re willing to give of themselves. Whether it’s their time, or their skill, or their financial resources, giving always involves a sacrifice. What value does life have if you keep everything for yourself? The more you love something, the more you’ll sacrifice for it.

Marie:
We’ve always done good things. We’ve always volunteered. When the sale of the second company came along, it enabled us to do the major things. And I had way more time to fill than I had before the kids were grown. That’s when I got involved with the GED and Literacy program in Newnan. I’ve been volunteering now for 17 years, and it is the best thing I do every week.

Steve:
Throughout our entire married life, we’ve always given of ourselves and financially to the degree we could.  Even when we first got married, we did things in our church community mostly. When we moved to Newnan, we began to get more involved. We’ve always supported charities, church work, and schools to the degree we could. I don’t think we’ve changed. But what has changed is our capacity to do good.  We can have a bigger impact than we could have otherwise.

Marie:
The Bible says, “the more someone is given, the more that is expected of them.”  I believe those of us who are given a lot have a responsibility to give back. Steve and I treat ourselves pretty well, but we don’t to the detriment of other people. That’s how we got started giving in a bigger way. We made the decision to Biblically tithe, and we took 10 percent of what we made on the sale of the company and set it aside to go to charity.  We decided to support local charities and most of them are dealing with children.

I feel strongly about this: it’s easy to write a check, and we could have said, “we’ll just write a check,” to all of these different organizations. It’s much harder to give of yourself, but that’s what we do. We don’t just write checks. We’re on the ground and working.

What motivates you to support children’s charities in particular?

Steve:
Probably 95 percent of what we do is targeted to children and vulnerable people within our community.  When Marie said the most enjoyable thing for her during the week is the GED program, mine is when we go to the Title I school on Wednesday and tutor kids for a couple of hours. We’re in our third year now.  The kids remember who we are, and we only see them once or twice a month. There were 25 we worked with last year. They come running down the hall when they see us, and we love working with them. Some of them say they only want to work with the “boy” Swope, not the “girl” Swope.

Marie:
These are children who desperately need attention, and they’re struggling on so many levels. They’re food insecure, need clothing, sleeping on one cousin’s couch this week and another cousin’s couch the next, or in need of a bath. It’s really tough, but these kids are so optimistic.

You mentioned being involved with your church community throughout your marriage. How have you grown through serving your church?

Steve:
I was raised a Methodist, but when I was 17, I converted to become a Roman Catholic. I went to mass a couple of times with Marie during our early dating years. When I was at Georgia Southern, a couple of my friends were Catholic.  I went to church with them a few times, and I met with a priest in Stone Mountain. I found a depth in the Catholic church that I didn’t have previously. Maybe it was just that I was too immature to understand. So I became Catholic, and we’ve been very faithful churchgoers ever since we got married. Marie’s dad is a deacon, and in 2002 our pastor asked me if I was interested in becoming a deacon. I applied, started in 2003, went through the 5 years of formation and in February 2008, I was ordained.

Shortly thereafter, I was told the archbishop wanted to meet with me. They wanted me to be director of the formation program for all the permanent deacons. I told them I couldn’t do it, because I was CEO of a company. I had a full-time job, and there was no way that was going to work. The archbishop suggested I go home and pray about it. On the way home, I called Marie who reminded me I had been thinking about getting out of business and maybe this was my path out. I took that job. From 2008 to 2011, I had my full-time job as CEO of my company, and part-time job for the archdiocese. God graciously helped us sell the company. Then I went to work full-time for the archdiocese. In that capacity, I’ve done a lot of things, and I was director of formation for the permanent diaconate for a little over five years.

When Joseph Mitchell died, who was Margaret Mitchell’s nephew, he gave his entire estate to the archdiocese. The archbishop asked me to take that over. Up until last year, I was CEO of the company that had control over the book rights for Gone with the Wind. We still have control over all of Margaret Mitchell’s personal effects, including her press card, library card, Atlanta Journal Constitution employee ID, and driver’s license. Those effects are in our climate-controlled archives, but I’ve been working diligently with UGA, the Smithsonian, and Atlanta History Center, because the artifacts are important to the City of Atlanta. I was at St. George for 32 years, and last year I was transferred and assigned to St. Mary Magdalene in Newnan.

While your family has been connected to Christian City for many years, you became involved just recently. What prompted your engagement?

Marie:
I’ve always known Christian City was here because my mother volunteered here for over 20 years. Last year, we came to realize what Christian City means to children who could otherwise have a different life story. They could be on the streets, or they could be living in abusive or neglectful situations and perpetuate yet another generation of people who are impoverished or uneducated. Christian City gives these children the chance to break that cycle. The truth is the only way out of poverty is to break the cycle, to give these children another opportunity, and being educated is the biggest opportunity.

Steve:
We visited Christian City, and LaVann gave us the tour. We met the house parents and toured one of the homes while the children were at school.  We found out this is “real.” It is awesome. It’s an effective program, something that works. Everyone we met were genuinely good people with the interest of the folks who live here in mind. It fits perfectly with what we want to do.

Marie:
The Children’s Village is home. You feel the love, and you see the message. In society, we see the breakdown of families. What Christian City does is give that back. We can think what we want about society changing, but the bottom line is children still need families. Family doesn’t have to look like it looked when Steve and I grew up in suburbia with a mom and a dad, but that concept of family must be there.

I think that’s one of the important messages that Christian City sends out, too – that society is changing, but we’ve got to have families. Children must have a family. And sometimes they find their family at Christian City. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so enamored with Christian City and what is being done. It’s the fact that we can change children’s life stories.

What’s the next step for you in your engagement with Christian City?

Steve:
We invited people to last year’s Drive and Dine, and they were moved when the event co-chairs, Anne and Taylor Josey, spoke. It struck them and touched their hearts. They were moved to give, and perhaps they will go out, inform and invite others.

Marie:
It’s now our responsibility to inform people. Christian City needs assistance. Any non-profit needs money, and it’s our job to let people know that this place does exist, and that Christian City is a worthy organization to support.

The Swopes’ Slideshow

Watch Their Video

ASSISTED LIVING MEMORY CARE MANAGER

Debra Stegall – Caring for residents since 1982

Read Debra’s Story

Working at Christian City is a ministry for me. I was chosen by God to care for His people, and that is the reason for my long duration here. I feel that Christian City impacts the lives of our residents by…

See Debra’s Slideshow

[click to view larger]

Watch Her Video

[double-click to expand]

Read More

providing them with a quality home where their spiritual, social, and medical needs are met.

My journey at Christian City began in June 1982 after I graduated from Newnan High School in June 1981. After asking my mom to help me find a job where I would be in a Christian environment, I landed my Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) position at Christian City where I worked as a CNA from 1982 to 1985 while attending nursing school at Atlanta Area Tech. I became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Christian City in 1985.

At that time, LPNs worked evenings and nights on 3-11pm and 11pm-7am shifts. Only RNs worked the 7am-3pm shift.  In 1986, I became pregnant. Instead of having morning sickness, I had evening sickness; and I was unable to continue working on the 3-11 shift. Thankfully, I was offered a position that was being vacated by an RN on the 7-3 shift – management of the Alzheimer’s (Wilkerson) Cottage at Christian City, and I’ve been managing Memory Care ever since. Today, I’m certified in Alzheimer’s care as a Certified Dementia Practitioner.

Memory Care sometimes spans generations and multiple members of the same family. Over the past three decades at Christian City, I’ve taken care of a mother, and later down the road, her daughter. I’ve done the same for a husband and wife.

My goal for Memory Care is to provide residents with the care they deserve and keep them functioning at the highest level possible. While some people question how we are able do this work day after day, I find it rewarding to get into their world and make them happy. Also, I am blessed to have a family that believes in the work I do and supports me.

In December 1984, I met my husband, Ray, at Christian City through a mutual friend.  Ray proposed to me in March 1985, and we were married in September 1985.

My family is God’s gift to me. Ray and I have three sons and one adopted daughter. Our oldest son is a music teacher. He is married, and they have a daughter. Our middle son is a producer and associate instructor in music. He is married, and they live in Abu Dhabi. Our youngest son is working on a fellowship for the Hudson River Museum. Our daughter is in 10th grade in high school.

I thank God for my husband who is always there for me. When I need volunteer help at Christian City, he gives me the support I need. He enjoys cooking; so when I need someone to handle the grilling for an event at work, Ray is always ready. His male chorus has visited Christian City to sing for our assisted living residents.

Years ago, my husband and I began sharing our family by being a host family for children living at Christian City. We would take the children to our home for weekend, summer, and holiday visits.  But that just wasn’t enough, so we became foster parents for Coweta County 2004 and continue to the present. I am also a board member for the Coweta County Foster Parent Association.

Ray and I are adoptive parents and foster parents. Over the years, we have fostered about 25 children, including the five foster children currently in our home. In December 2004, this beautiful little 2-year old came into foster care, and she was placed in our home. When she came up for adoption, we couldn’t let her go, even though she had challenges. We made the decision to adopt her.

My husband and I attended classes at the Marcus Institute in Atlanta to learn to manage a child with ADHD, and the techniques we learned were extremely helpful. Our daughter is now 16 years old. She is a praise dancer, and an energetic young lady who is willing to help whomever she can! Our daughter brought excitement and blessings to our family and church family, and she loves her big brothers. While they have spoiled her with attention, our sons have set a great example for our daughter.

Our family is active and always seems to have something interesting going on! In November 2016, we were blessed with the opportunity to be on the Family Feud television game show.  I auditioned with my family, but I didn’t participate in the show.  Instead, I afforded my daughter-in-law the chance to play, and they won the $20,000 prize!

As I continue to work at Christian City, I pray, before starting my daily duty, that I will make sure God’s will is done in my life each day. My aim each day is to make a difference in someone’s life to help them reach their highest potential. I know that God will provide me with what I need to meet the residents’ needs. He always has! For anyone considering fostering or adopting a child, I say, “Just do it!” The need is great and so is the blessing.

ASSISTED LIVING MEMORY CARE MANAGER

Debra Stegall – Caring for residents since 1982

Read Debra’s Story

Working at Christian City is a ministry for me. I was chosen by God to care for His people, and that is the reason for my long duration here. I feel that Christian City impacts the lives of our residents by…

Read More

providing them with a quality home where their spiritual, social, and medical needs are met.

My journey at Christian City began in June 1982 after I graduated from Newnan High School in June 1981. After asking my mom to help me find a job where I would be in a Christian environment, I landed my Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) position at Christian City where I worked as a CNA from 1982 to 1985 while attending nursing school at Atlanta Area Tech. I became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Christian City in 1985.

At that time, LPNs worked evenings and nights on 3-11pm and 11pm-7am shifts. Only RNs worked the 7am-3pm shift.  In 1986, I became pregnant. Instead of having morning sickness, I had evening sickness; and I was unable to continue working on the 3-11 shift. Thankfully, I was offered a position that was being vacated by an RN on the 7-3 shift – management of the Alzheimer’s (Wilkerson) Cottage at Christian City, and I’ve been managing Memory Care ever since. Today, I’m certified in Alzheimer’s care as a Certified Dementia Practitioner.

Memory Care sometimes spans generations and multiple members of the same family. Over the past three decades at Christian City, I’ve taken care of a mother, and later down the road, her daughter. I’ve done the same for a husband and wife.

My goal for Memory Care is to provide residents with the care they deserve and keep them functioning at the highest level possible. While some people question how we are able do this work day after day, I find it rewarding to get into their world and make them happy. Also, I am blessed to have a family that believes in the work I do and supports me.

In December 1984, I met my husband, Ray, at Christian City through a mutual friend.  Ray proposed to me in March 1985, and we were married in September 1985.

My family is God’s gift to me. Ray and I have three sons and one adopted daughter. Our oldest son is a music teacher. He is married, and they have a daughter. Our middle son is a producer and associate instructor in music. He is married, and they live in Abu Dhabi. Our youngest son is working on a fellowship for the Hudson River Museum. Our daughter is in 10th grade in high school.

I thank God for my husband who is always there for me. When I need volunteer help at Christian City, he gives me the support I need. He enjoys cooking; so when I need someone to handle the grilling for an event at work, Ray is always ready. His male chorus has visited Christian City to sing for our assisted living residents.

Years ago, my husband and I began sharing our family by being a host family for children living at Christian City. We would take the children to our home for weekend, summer, and holiday visits.  But that just wasn’t enough, so we became foster parents for Coweta County 2004 and continue to the present. I am also a board member for the Coweta County Foster Parent Association.

Ray and I are adoptive parents and foster parents. Over the years, we have fostered about 25 children, including the five foster children currently in our home. In December 2004, this beautiful little 2-year old came into foster care, and she was placed in our home. When she came up for adoption, we couldn’t let her go, even though she had challenges. We made the decision to adopt her.

My husband and I attended classes at the Marcus Institute in Atlanta to learn to manage a child with ADHD, and the techniques we learned were extremely helpful. Our daughter is now 16 years old. She is a praise dancer, and an energetic young lady who is willing to help whomever she can! Our daughter brought excitement and blessings to our family and church family, and she loves her big brothers. While they have spoiled her with attention, our sons have set a great example for our daughter.

Our family is active and always seems to have something interesting going on! In November 2016, we were blessed with the opportunity to be on the Family Feud television game show.  I auditioned with my family, but I didn’t participate in the show.  Instead, I afforded my daughter-in-law the chance to play, and they won the $20,000 prize!

As I continue to work at Christian City, I pray, before starting my daily duty, that I will make sure God’s will is done in my life each day. My aim each day is to make a difference in someone’s life to help them reach their highest potential. I know that God will provide me with what I need to meet the residents’ needs. He always has! For anyone considering fostering or adopting a child, I say, “Just do it!” The need is great and so is the blessing.

See Debra’s Slideshow

Watch Her Video

RESIDENT OF HOME FOR CHILDREN IN ’70s AND ’80s

Cathy Mullinax Ledford – “…my house parents became my ‘real’ parents…”

Read Cathy’s Story

I was 10 years old when I came to live at Christian City along with my sister and brother. I’ll never forget the date – April 10, 1977. All my worldly possessions were in a small garbage bag and…

See Cathy’s Slideshow

[click to view larger]

Watch Her Video

[double-click to expand]

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my hair was in ponytails. Our single mother loved the three of us very much, but she was unable to provide for us. I didn’t know my biological father, but I loved my mother beyond words and knew she loved us unconditionally.

While I’m sure the decision was heartbreaking for our mom, she entrusted Christian City to raise us with strong Christian values in a healthy, happy home. That was one of the best decisions she ever made. Even though I was only in fourth grade, I believe I knew I wanted to break the cycle that led to a life of poverty and poor life choices for my family. I also believe God has a hand in everything through His will.

Thankfully, God led us to the home of Mom and Dad Kimmons at Christian City, a couple with a special gift for loving each child in their care. They encouraged each one of us to do our best as individuals. My house parents became my “real” parents, and they still are to this day. We talk on the phone regularly, meet for Sunday meals, and celebrate holidays and special occasions together as a family.

When the Kimmons home became a “boys” cottage, I had to move. Eventually, I was blessed to move to the Moore cottage in seventh grade. By that time, I knew and accepted that I would not be reunited with my mother, and I was at peace with it. God closes and opens doors for a reason. In the end, it’s always a blessing.

Mom Moore is one of the most gentle, loving, kind and caring women I have ever known. In fact, John Kimmons and Sarah Moore are two of the most Christ-like people I know today. I named my daughter after Mom Moore. Their positive influence on my childhood was life-changing; and they planted the seed that helped me to break the cycle of poor decision-making that had perpetuated through several generations of my mother’s family.

Dad and Mom Kimmons also planted the seed that led me and my husband, Stuart, to start a small business that has provided for our family and allowed us to send our children to Christian school. I met my husband of 25 years when we were in the same eighth-grade homeroom and on the track team, but we didn’t begin dating until after college. When we married in 1993, my dad, John Kimmons, walked me down the aisle at the church we attended as a family.

Stuart and I have been blessed with three children, now 23, 21 and 19, who have thankfully made good decisions in their lives due to their personal relationships with Jesus Christ and ongoing involvement with our church family. Our son, Justin, is in the U.S. Coast Guard; daughter, Sarah, will graduate from nursing school in May 2019 with a BSN degree; and the youngest, Kaitlin, was the valedictorian of her high school class. She is a freshman at Kennesaw State majoring in civil engineering.

It was at Christian City that I experienced the value of a strong Christian family and accepted Christ as my savior. In turn, my husband and I make every effort to live by example for our children. When I developed breast cancer in 2013, my strong faith in God along with the love and faith of my family and friends saw me through the difficult times. Today, as a cancer survivor, I look forward to seeing God’s plan unfold in our children’s lives so they can be a blessing to others.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you. Having been raised at Christian City, I know first-hand the true blessing that the Children’s Village has been in the past, is today, and will continue to be for countless children in need. God is faithful.

My favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Thanks to God, Christian City was in my path, and I am here to share this blessing with you today.

RESIDENT OF HOME FOR CHILDREN IN ’70s AND ’80s

Cathy Mullinax Ledford – “…my house parents became my ‘real’ parents…”

Read Cathy’s Story

I was 10 years old when I came to live at Christian City along with my sister and brother. I’ll never forget the date – April 10, 1977. All my worldly possessions were in a small grocery bag and…

Read More

my hair was in ponytails. Our single mother loved the three of us very much, but she was unable to provide for us. I didn’t know my biological father, but I loved my mother beyond words and knew she loved us unconditionally. While I’m sure the decision was heartbreaking for our mom, she entrusted Christian City to raise us with strong Christian values in a healthy, happy home. That was one of the best decisions she ever made. Even though I was only in fourth grade, I believe I knew I wanted to break the cycle that led to a life of poverty and poor life choices for my family. I also believe God has a hand in everything through His will.

Thankfully, God led us to the home of Mom and Dad Kimmons at Christian City, a couple with a special gift for loving each child in their care. They encouraged each one of us to do our best as individuals. My house parents became my “real” parents, and they still are to this day. We talk on the phone regularly, meet for Sunday meals, and celebrate holidays and special occasions together as a family.

When the Kimmons home became a “boys” cottage, I had to move. Eventually, I was blessed to move to the Moore cottage in seventh grade. By that time, I knew and accepted that I would not be reunited with my mother, and I was at peace with it. God closes and opens doors for a reason. In the end, it’s always a blessing.

Mom Moore is one of the most gentle, loving, kind and caring women I have ever known. In fact, John Kimmons and Sarah Moore are two of the most Christ-like people I know today. I named my daughter after Mom Moore. Their positive influence on my childhood was life-changing; and they planted the seed that helped me to break the cycle of poor decision-making that had perpetuated through several generations of my mother’s family.

Dad and Mom Kimmons also planted the seed that led me and my husband, Stuart, to start a small business that has provided for our family and allowed us to send our children to Christian school. I met my husband of 25 years when we were in the same eighth-grade homeroom and on the track team, but we didn’t begin dating until after college. When we married in 1993, my dad, John Kimmons, walked me down the aisle at the church we attended as a family.

Stuart and I have been blessed with three children, now 23, 21 and 19, who have thankfully made good decisions in their lives due to their personal relationships with Jesus Christ and ongoing involvement with our church family. Our son, Justin, is in the U.S. Coast Guard; daughter, Sarah, will graduate from nursing school in May 2019 with a BSN degree; and the youngest, Kaitlin, was the valedictorian of her high school class. She is a freshman at Kennesaw State majoring in civil engineering.

It was at Christian City that I experienced the value of a strong Christian family and accepted Christ as my savior. In turn, my husband and I make every effort to live by example for our children. When I developed breast cancer in 2013, my strong faith in God along with the love and faith of my family and friends saw me through the difficult times. Today, as a cancer survivor, I look forward to seeing God’s plan unfold in our children’s lives so they can be a blessing to others.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you. Having been raised at Christian City, I know first-hand the true blessing that the Children’s Village has been in the past, is today, and will continue to be for countless children in need. God is faithful.

My favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Thanks to God, Christian City was in my path, and I am here to share this blessing with you today.

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ACTIVE SENIOR LIVING RESIDENT

Arlene White- “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

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Hello! My name is Arlene White. I’ve been a resident of Christian City’s active senior living community since August 2016. It is said “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” in an expression taken from a…

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Chinese proverb. I’d like to share some steps along my path to residing at Christian City during retirement.

Never one to be idle, I’ve had plenty to keep me busy during my lifetime. I have family residing in the Atlanta Metro area consisting of my son and two daughters, two granddaughters, and two grandsons. My working career spanned years of working in the finance and accounting field with government agencies, non-profit organizations, mortgage companies and other private corporations.

An abiding faith in Christ and love for people has kept me involved with church groups and volunteer activities from my youth. I volunteered with the American Red Cross as a physician’s assistant at United States Air Force Hospital, Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal; Project Open Hand in meal delivery to elderly and disabled residents in Atlanta; United Missions as computer literacy facilitator and volunteer coordinator in Smyrna, Angkor Resource Center’s corporate office in Riverdale assisting in voter education for Cambodian citizens in Atlanta Metro Area; and Liberty Point Elementary School as a guest reader.

In fact, I was introduced to Christian City through the Senior Usher Ministry of Zion Hill Baptist Church, Campbellton Road, as we volunteered by engaging with assisted living residents with guidance from nursing staff. For some years, my knowledge of Christian City’s many facilities, services, and amenities remained limited because I was only familiar with the assisted living and skilled nursing and rehab center. That view would be altered, of course, as life changes ushered (pardon the pun) me into being involved with Christian City as a resident.

I was, as I often like to say, a few doors down from 60 when my youngest daughter completed college, married, and started a family. I was employed as an office administrator at the time and started thinking about what I’d do upon retiring in 10 years or so. Knowing full well I couldn’t be (here’s that word again) idleand stay home in retirement, I decided to go to college. Yes, college! I would work toward getting that “piece of paper” which was my mother’s term for diploma.

A two-year course of study earned me a certificate in General Business from a technical school in my hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi, when I was in my early 20s. It served me well in earning a living, but I wanted to do more in retirement.

You can imagine comments I got from people when I told them of my intention. Some asked why I should bother since I was approaching the end of my career and had succeeded in getting my children through school with them obtaining advanced degrees. My perspective was that it was my children’s success, not mine. Others reminded me it had been years since I’d been in a classroom and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with younger people straight out of high school.

A Bible verse countered that reasoning: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).” I enrolled at KSU because it was a good fit for this non-traditional student; though I must admit most people my age were graduate students not undergrad. I started out by taking a class or two each semester while I continued full time employment.

Little did I know a health issue would impact my plan to remain in the workforce until full retirement age. I received comfort from the Bible and support from my family during that season. I held to the following verse from the New Testament: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (3 John 1:2 KJV).”

I kept the following verse from the Old Testament at the forefront of my mind: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV).”I lived in my son’s home for the duration of my health issue. He and my daughters saw to my immediate physical needs while out-of-state family, friends, and church family fervently prayed for me.

After about two years, I regained enough strength to move out of my son’s home with renewed enthusiasm to earn a degree. I searched unsuccessfully for active senior communities in Cobb County near KSU. My daughter suggested I look for a place closer to her home in Fairburn and my son’s home in the City of South Fulton. When she called one day and suggested I consider Christian City as a place to live, I told her I didn’t need assisted living! Again, that was my limited view of Christian City at the time.

She asked me to look at the website because Christian City had an active senior living community of patio homes and affordable apartments. I was totally surprised and wasted no time in calling to make an appointment. After a visit and contemplation, an apartment proved to be the better option for me. I now live in an apartment at Christian City.

I never imagined living in a community with so many activities and a host of caring people.  Even if I had nothing to do away from home, I am afforded access to an activities center, pool, events on-site (something is going on at Christian City every day), off-site trips and transportation to stores, banks, pharmacies. I never knew active senior living could be so ideal.  My son visited shortly after I moved in to be sure I was “safe and happy” (as he put it). He left with the assurance that I am indeed.

My university studies continued despite the long commute and I declared a major. I graduated magna cum laude on May 9, 2018, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in African and African Diaspora Studies from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at KSU. It only took me eight yearsto earn a four-year degree! My only question upon graduation: what would I do now to remain active? Volunteer at Christian City, of course! With perfect timing, a volunteer opportunity for a freelance writer appeared in Christian City’s monthly Partyline newsletter. I inquired. After completing volunteer orientation, I was directed to the Marketing and Communications department to assist in that area.

But there’s more! Professors at KSU encouraged me to apply for grad school. I did and was accepted into the Master of Arts in Professional Writing program in the English Department. My concentration is Creative Writing and support area is Rhetoric and Composition.

Who knew?  God knew! I’m convinced all of this was orchestrated by God as part of His plan for me. KSU didn’t know about my volunteer status with Christian City; Christian City wasn’t aware of my entering grad school at KSU. But God knew, and I’m grateful to Him for ordering my steps.

The testimony I have at this juncture in my life may be uttered in lyrics of a song from my childhood rendered by the senior choir at Greater Mount Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church in Vicksburg: “I’ve learned how to lean and depend on Jesus; He’s my Strength and He is my Guide. I’ve learned how to lean and depend on Jesus; I found out that if I trust Him, He will provide.”

ACTIVE SENIOR LIVING RESIDENT

Arlene White- “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Read Arlene’s Story

Hello! My name is Arlene White. I’ve been a resident of Christian City’s active senior living community since August 2016. It is said “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” in an expression taken from a…

Read More

Chinese proverb. I’d like to share some steps along my path to residing at Christian City during retirement.

Never one to be idle, I’ve had plenty to keep me busy during my lifetime. I have family residing in the Atlanta Metro area consisting of my son and two daughters, two granddaughters, and two grandsons. My working career spanned years of working in the finance and accounting field with government agencies, non-profit organizations, mortgage companies and other private corporations.

An abiding faith in Christ and love for people has kept me involved with church groups and volunteer activities from my youth. I volunteered with the American Red Cross as a physician’s assistant at United States Air Force Hospital, Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal; Project Open Hand in meal delivery to elderly and disabled residents in Atlanta; United Missions as computer literacy facilitator and volunteer coordinator in Smyrna, Angkor Resource Center’s corporate office in Riverdale assisting in voter education for Cambodian citizens in Atlanta Metro Area; and Liberty Point Elementary School as a guest reader.

In fact, I was introduced to Christian City through the Senior Usher Ministry of Zion Hill Baptist Church, Campbellton Road, as we volunteered by engaging with assisted living residents with guidance from nursing staff. For some years, my knowledge of Christian City’s many facilities, services, and amenities remained limited because I was only familiar with the assisted living and skilled nursing and rehab center. That view would be altered, of course, as life changes ushered (pardon the pun) me into being involved with Christian City as a resident.

I was, as I often like to say, a few doors down from 60 when my youngest daughter completed college, married, and started a family. I was employed as an office administrator at the time and started thinking about what I’d do upon retiring in 10 years or so. Knowing full well I couldn’t be (here’s that word again) idleand stay home in retirement, I decided to go to college. Yes, college! I would work toward getting that “piece of paper” which was my mother’s term for diploma.

A two-year course of study earned me a certificate in General Business from a technical school in my hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi, when I was in my early 20s. It served me well in earning a living, but I wanted to do more in retirement.

You can imagine comments I got from people when I told them of my intention. Some asked why I should bother since I was approaching the end of my career and had succeeded in getting my children through school with them obtaining advanced degrees. My perspective was that it was my children’s success, not mine. Others reminded me it had been years since I’d been in a classroom and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with younger people straight out of high school.

A Bible verse countered that reasoning: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).” I enrolled at KSU because it was a good fit for this non-traditional student; though I must admit most people my age were graduate students not undergrad. I started out by taking a class or two each semester while I continued full time employment.

Little did I know a health issue would impact my plan to remain in the workforce until full retirement age. I received comfort from the Bible and support from my family during that season. I held to the following verse from the New Testament: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (3 John 1:2 KJV).”

I kept the following verse from the Old Testament at the forefront of my mind: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV).”I lived in my son’s home for the duration of my health issue. He and my daughters saw to my immediate physical needs while out-of-state family, friends, and church family fervently prayed for me.

After about two years, I regained enough strength to move out of my son’s home with renewed enthusiasm to earn a degree. I searched unsuccessfully for active senior communities in Cobb County near KSU. My daughter suggested I look for a place closer to her home in Fairburn and my son’s home in the City of South Fulton. When she called one day and suggested I consider Christian City as a place to live, I told her I didn’t need assisted living! Again, that was my limited view of Christian City at the time.

She asked me to look at the website because Christian City had an active senior living community of patio homes and affordable apartments. I was totally surprised and wasted no time in calling to make an appointment. After a visit and contemplation, an apartment proved to be the better option for me. I now live in an apartment at Christian City.

I never imagined living in a community with so many activities and a host of caring people.  Even if I had nothing to do away from home, I am afforded access to an activities center, pool, events on-site (something is going on at Christian City every day), off-site trips and transportation to stores, banks, pharmacies. I never knew active senior living could be so ideal.  My son visited shortly after I moved in to be sure I was “safe and happy” (as he put it). He left with the assurance that I am indeed.

My university studies continued despite the long commute and I declared a major. I graduated magna cum laude on May 9, 2018, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in African and African Diaspora Studies from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at KSU. It only took me eight yearsto earn a four-year degree! My only question upon graduation: what would I do now to remain active? Volunteer at Christian City, of course! With perfect timing, a volunteer opportunity for a freelance writer appeared in Christian City’s monthly Partyline newsletter. I inquired. After completing volunteer orientation, I was directed to the Marketing and Communications department to assist in that area.

But there’s more! Professors at KSU encouraged me to apply for grad school. I did and was accepted into the Master of Arts in Professional Writing program in the English Department. My concentration is Creative Writing and support area is Rhetoric and Composition.

Who knew?  God knew! I’m convinced all of this was orchestrated by God as part of His plan for me. KSU didn’t know about my volunteer status with Christian City; Christian City wasn’t aware of my entering grad school at KSU. But God knew, and I’m grateful to Him for ordering my steps.

The testimony I have at this juncture in my life may be uttered in lyrics of a song from my childhood rendered by the senior choir at Greater Mount Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church in Vicksburg: “I’ve learned how to lean and depend on Jesus; He’s my Strength and He is my Guide. I’ve learned how to lean and depend on Jesus; I found out that if I trust Him, He will provide.”

See Arlene’s Slideshow

Watch Her Video