Most of the pieces that appear here share the stories of our clients and guests, which is most appropriate; sometimes we tell about the work of a particular staff member or program. Today I want to talk about me … well, sort of about me. And it is not that I WANT to as much as I NEED to.
Thirty years ago I was pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, a former Evangelical and Reformed congregation of Canal Street in New Orleans. One of the joys of that service was my being named to the Board of Directors of Back Bay Mission, a pleasant drive from New Orleans before Interstate 10 became a raceway – and before 110 connected to the middle of Biloxi.
My recent return to be a Church Relations Associate has made such an impression on me that I feel compelled to share that day’s experience, beginning with FINDING the new (to me) campus on Division Street. The expansion of programs and services made possible by the new facilities has, in the tradition of the past 96 years of BBM service, provided a new beacon of hope which shines far beyond the campus and across the Gulf Coast. The not-so-secret ingredient, however, is not in help given and food shared but in that bedrock of life and ministry: ATTITUDE. How does the attitude at Back Bay Mission affect the community while strengthening neighborhoods, seeking justice, and transforming lives?
First I was greeted by Long-Term Volunteers Jeanette, Terry, Nancy, Bob, and Carol then across the street by Deborah at the Day Center and Twila at the Food Pantry, all smiling, chatty, and making me feel like we had known each other forever. After that came Dr. Graham, the Executive Director, who took me around the campus and introduced me to every staff member, citing some personal attribute of each and describing the work they do. I remember back when the staff was about six; now it is more than I can count, and Carol Merriman and I are the newest in the mix. But back to that Day One.
It did not take me long to realize that EVERY staff member and volunteer is “at home” and “in the family” at BBM. If we could somehow capture the energy, the smiles, the deep caring and concern expressed by ALL these staff to EVERYONE who walks in the door, Alice and her crew would find a way to bottle it and give it away, free of charge. And that is just what they do. By being themselves, sustained by their spirit of love, personal involvement, and genuine sense of MISSION, they put the MMMM in BBMMMM and set an awe-inspiring example for all who are fortunate enough to meet them every day.