By: Bec Cranford-Smith
I sat down with Cynthia Barron who is our April Volunteer Spotlight. She has been at the Gateway Center for almost two years. Get to know Cynthia …
Have you been in Georgia all your life?
I was born in Charleston, SC and resided there until I was 5 yrs old. My Daddy was in the Navy for 21 yrs, so we were stationed in several locations in Rhode Island and Florida. I went to high school in Columbus, GA. After graduation, I came to Atlanta to further my education.
Cynthia remembered how she became a volunteer at the Gateway Center. Her brother and Spiritual Leader, Jeff, often went to the streets to serve. “Actually going to where they sleep and keep their personal belongings and seeing the tents and suitcase was a slap of reality. Looking over and seeing a teenaged girl with a million dollar smile, reached a depth of my soul that had never been touched. I was so overwhelmed by the fact that I have an automobile, home with running water, electricity, food, clothes, tv’s, stereos, and even a night light and to feel their gratefulness and see their smiles moved me to turn away momentarily to hide my tears.” Minister Jeff suddenly passed in October 2012. Cynthia felt heartbroken, after enduring so many losses in her life.
In May 2013 she decided to override her pain by serving people who were in need. Cynthia recounts, “I prayed to God to leadme to a charity that not only feeds and clothes the homeless community, but goes further in making sure that they have assistance with medical, housing & utilities, employment, job training, food and clothing needs empowering them to become self-sufficient. I did a Google search and within a moment I came across the Gateway Center. “
On May 19, 2013 Cynthia started volunteering every Sunday. She often would bring breakfast to the clients, and clothing as well. In 2014, she decided to ask for donations at her work, the U.S. Trustee Office. “My kind-hearted co-workers have continued to donate a voluminous amount of women’s and men’s clothing, coats, shoes, health and beauty items, towels and wash cloths. In August of 2014 I joined a Church and continue to serve at the Gateway Center every Sunday after service.”
What’s one memory from the Gateway Center that has stayed with you?
“A lady whom I had seen and talked to often while she was receiving services, came into the Gateway Center singing and dancing to a Beyoncé song with plugs in her ears!! She had her eyes closed and was performing with all of her heart as if she was in a concert. She did not have one need or concern at all. It gave me instant happiness and took me to a much higher level of gratefulness.”
What advice do you have to give to others who are looking to serve?
Always remember to treat everyone with dignity and respect.
What has been difficult or hard for you when working with people experiencing homelessness?
To be totally honest, it is the desire to want to take them home with me. I want to do so much more on a larger scale.
What gives you hope?
When a resident at the Gateway Center tells me that they are leaving and will be moving into their own apartment!!!
What is your favorite quote?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou