By: Jason Tatum
As you might know by now, each month staff and clients vote on who they believe should be Gateway’s Employee of the Month. For the month of August the winner was our Volunteer Coordinator superstar, Bec Cranford-Smith. For anyone who works with Bec it is very apparent that her compassion and desire to serve others is truly unparalleled. Bec’s love for what she does pushes her to go far above and beyond, often working weekends and nights. She doesn’t complain, and she doesn’t get much credit for what she does. That’s why we’re so proud that she was recognized for the amazing effort she makes each and every day. I was thrilled to have the chance to ask Bec a few questions.
Jason: How did you get into this business?
Bec: Being an evangelical minister’s kid was difficult. I had a warped sense of religion, and a knack for questioning authority. My father told the congregation and my relatives I was gay. This was a newsflash to me. I ran away from home, but could never escape love. I had to have my own spiritual journey different from my parents. I eventually reconciled with my father. I worked in various outreach ministries such as food pantries, and in the recovery community. My heart was ripped apart by the prophets and their regard for the poor during my studies of the Bible. My seminary experience ruined me for ever doing anything other than serving others. I had a summer internship at Rescue Atlanta in 2009, that stirred my heart more. I also volunteered at Victory Mission in Missouri, served as an AmeriCorps Vista, and worked as a community involvement/volunteerism officer at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
Jason: What keeps you here day after day?
Bec: I stay here because I genuinely encounter some of the most amazing people who educate me and inspire me- and many of them are GWC clients.
Jason: What’s the toughest part of working in this field?
Bec: I hate passing by dumpsters and watching our clients that I have befriended dig for food, or sleep on the sidewalk. I wish our culture cared about the mentally ill, and we took care of our neighbors and families.
Jason: What do you find most rewarding?
Bec: When exposure to injustice, homelessness, privilege, and poverty or merely having a conversation challenges worldviews, I see volunteers have “Aha” moments. It delights me to think that I may play some small role in someone’s realization of their vocation as a helper.
Jason: What positive aspects do you see in how the community is changing in regards to homelessness?
Bec: In the larger context of society, I hear more people genuinely interested in equality, sexual trafficking, mental illness, veterans’ health, immigration, and LGBT issues that contribute to the plight of persons experiencing homelessness.
Jason: What do you do to relax?
Bec: Painting from my oak rocking chair, barefoot on the veranda. Sometimes I cover up in a blanket, grab Basil my dog, and read dystopian literature or catch an episode of Dr. Who with Terry.
Jason: What are you dreaming of for your future?
Bec: I would love to continue working in homelessness as an advocate. I am applying to a PhD program that will focus on social justice and the religious sector after my husband Terry finishes his bachelor’s degree. I think I’d like to visit every art museum in Latin America. One day, I’d like to learn to play the banjo. And maybe get neck tattoos and a chest piece.
Have you bought a ticket to our event, Human Clay? You should and you can! Check our Eventbrite page for more details.