The Rapidian

Dégagé Ministries aims to transform lives through care, community center

Transforming lives is not just a catch phrase or a clever slogan; it is simply what we strive to do here at Dégagé.
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Written by Molly Hilbert
 

“Transforming lives” is not just a catchphrase or a clever slogan; it is simply what we strive to do here at Dégagé. We have 400-500 men and women walk through our doors each and every day to use our services and to find shelter from outside. Our Dining Room is our community center, the “living room” of the Heartside Neighborhood where people come to experience community while enjoying the warmth of the building and the comfort of a hot meal. Our staff and volunteers strive to make this a welcoming and warm environment, a contrast to the often rough and hostile streets.

Patti, one of our faithful volunteers with River Rock Church, is a wonderful example of someone who envisions and strives for transformation with us. Upon noticing the need for our Dining Room walls to be re-painted, she decided to transform our space. Patti inquired of the patrons to get an idea of what they wanted their space to be like. “The patrons said to make it happy and joyful,” Patti told us. She asked a designer to help in choosing the color palette and over a weekend with many volunteers and donated materials, the walls were re-painted and the Dining Room was transformed. Stephen, one of our many patrons whom we serve each day, said that the Dining Room is now a “cheerful” place.

Our Dining Room is also a place where our patrons can get a hot, fresh meal every day. Ed can be found behind the grill making fresh to order breakfast for our patrons, who are able to order off of a menu and have their food delivered right to them at their table. Ed has been a chef for 38 years, thanking his mother, a southern cook, for his talents. He had been with Dégagé for two years when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Upon this diagnosis, his life began to transform. Every morning, right before the breakfast rush, Ed can be found in his car praying – not just for himself, but for the staff, volunteers, and patrons who he now knows by name. We also pray for Ed, who has said that he feels our prayers and knows that because of them he is now in remission and, through God’s grace, he now has his spark back.

Stephen, our patron who described the transformed Dining Room as a cheerful place, went on to say that it is more than just a Dining Room to him; it is a “social hour and the place where everyone in Heartside starts their day. They feel safe here and feel they are treated with dignity and respect.” Through reflecting the love of Christ to all those who walk through our doors, we desire to see lives transformed and relationships built. This is our mission and the heart behind why we do what we do.

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