How I Revitalized my Mission for the Homeless When I Hit a Wall
TOPICS IN THIS STORYNorth America
Se’ka Cheeks is the small groups coordinator for Northstar Christian Center in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition to her job at her church, she is the founder and president of Impact Change Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect homeless individuals to effective training, education and job placement services in a caring and faith-based environment. In 2017, Se’ka attended The Global Leadership Summit for the first time, which provided her with the leadership tools and revitalization she was looking for when she hit a wall in her ministry.
God ignited a fire in my heart.
I’ve always had a heart for people, but it was God who ignited a fire in me to do something significant for the homeless population. I started off volunteering in my local community with homeless organizations and researching the homeless demographics in my area. Then in 2011, I started my non-profit, Impact Change Foundation. Saturday, July 08, 2012 marked our first event at a local park in Columbia, South Carolina. We prayed for the people and gave out toiletry bags, snacks and cold water to about 60 homeless men and women. Our objective at that time was to simply show the people we care and there is hope beyond their situation.
From there we grew, and shifted our focus.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness lists, “income and housing affordability” as one of the main reasons people experience homelessness. The vast majority of people who become homeless are unemployed or underemployed. A lot of the individuals who have jobs are not making enough money to live and therefore lose their place of residence.
We found through research that there are not many organizations focused solely on employment for homeless individuals, especially in the region we serve. There are shelters, feeding programs and transitional homes that have job programs, but their primary objective is to provide temporary housing and to feed them.
By 2013, we started having outreach events to spread the gospel at Transitions Homeless Center, the largest shelter in Columbia, South Carolina. Since then, we have continued at the shelter, now offering résumé assistance, weekly job listings and career events. In addition, Sistercare, a shelter for battered women and the Richland Main Library in our area, uses our weekly job listing to serve their community.
We want to do more by connecting homeless individuals to employment opportunities.
Our dream is to show the redemptive love of Christ by helping the homeless get back into the workforce. I want to connect homeless individuals to employment opportunities through a fully functional career center that provides training, workshops, educational services such as GED classes, financial literacy, life skills classes and transportation to jobs. The whole process guided by a career coach that assists with job placement and partnerships with companies that are hiring.
Dreams take patience and perseverance.
Since starting this ministry, God has shown me patience. When I first started, a friend who had a nonprofit at the time, told me to not despise small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). This really stuck with me and helped me to stay focused, but when five years had come and gone, and we were still at the small beginning stage, I got discouraged, but I did not lose faith. I believe through the years, God was reiterating to not despise the process.
I had a defining moment, after much failure in my life that I would live by the motto that if I drown pursuing my dream, I will drown reaching for the surface. Sometimes dreams do not come true, but every time I have desired to quit, I have thought about reaching a little farther, stretching a little farther to get to my dream.
The Summit revitalized our mission.
When I attended the Summit, I was going through a complete change in my organization. We had been working in the community since 2012, but there wasn’t much growth to reach more people, become financially stable and create effective programs. We had hit a wall.
The invaluable information I gained from attending the Summit, gave me a new perspective on my ministry, work and ultimately myself. The Summit has given me the tools to become a well-rounded leader with the ability to make a greater impact with the people I serve and the people I am connected to.
Sam Adeyemi talked about seeing and connecting your followers to your vision and recasting your vision over and over. This was profound for me because I needed to see my non-profit in a new light, but more importantly, myself as the leader. I had to reevaluate my effectiveness and my non-profit.
So what did I do? I went to my board of directors and proposed a new action plan to reconfigure and relaunch the board. I put new objectives in place to accomplish our goals through a new program, fundraising and recruiting new board members.
As a result, we will reach more people and connect more individuals to employment opportunities.
My vision has connected me to great people. We’ve been able to prepare many people for the workforce and help them find jobs. More importantly, we’ve led many people to Christ during the most broken and destitute times of their lives, and I’ve seen the homeless statistics in my area decline not just through the work that we are doing, but through many organizations making a difference collectively.
The Summit propels you forward to accomplish your dream.
Never stop learning because when you do, you become irrelevant. The Summit is an experience, not a conference. It will completely change your life and propel you forward in whatever business you’re in.
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