Top 5 // Christmas open house, thrift update video, P-Dot, and more!

Hey, everyone, here’s the top 5 for the week ending 11/7/2014.

1. First up… Make plans now to attend the second annual Christmas Open House at The Village. We’ll start sending out invites in the next two weeks- as well as email blasts. Go ahead and mark the date, now. This is a “come and go” event, and is an awesome way to see our place firsthand.

2. This video. This quick video shows you the inside of our thrift store and explains the awesome fact that the one thing that funds 70% of it is actually the easiest thing for you to give. That’s right. It’s the easiest to give and it’s the biggest game changer. Watch, and think about doing it!

3. Staff shift… job development… and procurement. 

We have some awesome guys working here. Over the past few weeks, two of the guys have shifted from case management to other roles. Drew is now heading procurement- and is the guy you’ll talk to if you call to set up a pickup or donation for the thrift store. Philip is helping guys land jobs, and apparently hit a home run this week. Great work, guys!

4. $13K of freezer, roof other projects, etc. We have a few projects we need to do to keep the place humming. Here they are:

  • Re-roof the “new hall” (about $6K for metal roofing- it’s a huge hall!)
  • Re-do the sewer at the women’s property (about $2K)
  • Install a freezer at the commercial kitchen (about $2K). We have the freezer, we simply need to lay a slab- this is an outdoor, stand alone freezer which will massively cut down our grocery budget, since we’ll be able to store donated meats!
  • Install HVAC on men’s hall (about $3K). We’ve been given a 15-ton unit- it’s ready to go. We simply need the cash- or the crew- to install it!

If you want to help, give us a ring! 205-868-3751!

5. Alfonzo receives medical clearance. “P-Dot” (Alphonso Dotson) has been driving for us for about four years. A few months ago, he had a stroke. He’s worked hard- aggressively exercising and eating right, to get medical clearance.

As of today, he’s clear to work!


Top 5 // Thrift update (clean out your closets * bring it!), “new” kitchen, NPR, and more!

Hello. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve cranked out a “Top 5.” It seems that no matter how well-intended the intention to crank out an update is, it usually falls short to the other things going on at the actual ministry center itself.

That said, let me give you a few updates for the week ending 09/26.

1. Thrift store. The store is doing great. As we transition to a new season, remember us as you clean out the closets and drawers and start making the transition to long sleeves. If you didn’t wear it last year, you probably won’t wear it this year. Drop it in one of our yellow boxes around down, or give us a call (868-3751) and we’ll come pick it up.

Here’s a video I shot a few weeks ago walking through the back stock room, showing you how things get from you, to us, to the store, and then to the floor.

Everything given to the store funds the ministry at The Village, which runs 24/7, transitioning men, women, and kids, from homelessness, prison, and addictions to health and wholeness in Christ!

2. The Grace Church is back in swing. We took a summer sabbatical mid-July through August… and we’re back. Info about the church is on the church site.

3. Alabama Justice Ministries (AJMN) has held two Saturday training sessions since our last update on this site. On  July 19, they trained a crew of men and women to minister inside our city jails, as well as to provide mentoring. They did the same thing, again, over this past weekend.

AJMN offices in our facility and does an incredible job focusing on the mentoring aspects of reentry, as well as training people to minister inside prison / jail settings. We’ll post updates on training on the events page on this site.

4. NPR radio taped a story a few weeks ago, featuring Charles- from our kitchen. We’ll post a link as soon as its available. It was awesome to see this guy- who has come so far- featured on this platform.

5. Check out the updated kitchen next time you’re around our facility. We found a restaurant near Cullman that was closing. They and some amazing equipment which we were able to pick up very cheaply. In fact, we’re able to sell our old stuff at our store and cover the costs of the new!


Top 5 / week ending 07/19/2014- Early classes, donated heat pump and car, 13 investigates drop boxes, thrift update!

1. Early classes. Things are humming along with the new daily schedule. Currently, we run all residents through a 9 week job training program that includes life skills classes early in the morning, along with a healthy dose of grace and empowerment. The short video above (which I shot on my way to go teach class one morning) explains some of this transition, which our case managers have totally made happen in a smooth, smooth way.

2. Donated heat pump from original owner of building. One of the admin execs from the nursing home company (they own 13 facilities) that helped secure the transfer of the current MountainView property location to us popped in the other day with their director of operations. He asked if we needed an air unit (he noticed the air wasn’t working in the dining hall). After confirming that we did- and that we were looking to replace the one that had just gone out- he said he had an idea…

Turns out, he purchased an air unit for that same room a few years ago. Since they moved out of the facility, they never installed it. The thing had been sitting in storage.

“How about we send it back home?” he said.

What a grand idea! Thanks, Ball Healthcare- yet, again!

3. And a donated car. Ah… the reason the Director of Operations was there was because he was riding with his co-worker, a wonderful woman who came to donate a Volvo station sago to us.

We make about 200-250 trips / day. A new car… yep, that’s a great tool to add to the mix.

4. Channel 13 news visits to talk about drop boxes. Greg Privett, one of the staff reporters, called a few weeks ago about our drop boxes. ran the story on June 30th titled “Donation Bin Battle” (hit the link to watch the story). Apparently, our city is being flooded with drop boxes from area nonprofits and other for profit companies from out of town.

He asked what we thought about it.  I stated our position is this:

Support a local ministry. If the box is pink, orange… blue… yes, we like yellow, but at the end of the day, give your stuff to someone who is going to put those items directly to use by giving them to someone who needs them, or by selling them and using the cash to help someone in our city restore their life. There are some great nonprofits in our city- my encouragement is to help them love and bless and our city, as opposed to filling the wallets of someone in another place that we’ll never meet.

Just my thoughts. Our drop boxes are listed here.

5. Thrift store update- expanded hours and drop box locations. By the way, we’ve expanded our hours, too, and the thrift store. Thank you for your continued support. As always, you can make a donation by finding our boxes, bringing items to the store or ministry center (where we have a box) or by calling our offices for a pickup- 205-868-3751.

Top 5 // week ending 06/14 (catching my breath edition) Give us junk, Alfonzo, new case managers, etc.

Quick paint job in the case management office! And, the old floors are pulled up...

Quick paint job in the case management office! And, the old floors are pulled up…

Hello, everyone.

Here’s the latest Top 5. I’ve just looked back and noticed that I haven’t posted in a few weeks (I like to try and post on Friday, setting the timer to send this thing out on Saturday or some time over the weekend).

Anyway, here’s what’s going on:

1. Thrift update: give us (yes, even) your junk. We have a great way to recycle / scrap old shirts and metal at the thrift store. So, while we are extremely thankful for your “nice” donations (things we can sell), we can make use of just about anything. Watch the video below and I’ll show you how.

2. We cleared out another yard sale. A few guys in Chelsea called and gave us the chance to “clean up” after a neighborhood yard sale a few weeks ago. This meant we got the “scraps” (read: two full truck loads) from 60-plus homes. We are grateful to pick up anything you have- 205-868-3751, or find the yellow drop boxes throughout town.

3. “Bird” from the Basement teaches at 12-step / recovery group. We were honored to have “Bird” from the Basement with us and our 12-step group. The group meets each Wednesday and works through  curriculum we produced in-house at The Village.

4. Alfonzo is back. Alfonzo Dotson, one of our drivers (who has been with us about four years!), was hospitalized for about a week. He’s doing fine, and is just in some need of some R & R. We’re thankful for him and glad to have him back at it!

5. Blake has shifted to the “head case manager” position. We’ve added a few staff over the past several weeks and made a few adjustments. Blake, one of the guys who has been working out of that office the longest- and is heading the street ministry at The Village, has shifted to the head case management position.

By the way, Blake taught at The Grace Church a few weeks ago. You can find his audio online.

And, Blake got to it and updated the case management office- painting the walls, as well as pulling up the old floors (see pics on this post).

Top 5, week ending 05/17/2014! // Sozo jam session, neighborhood president, thrift shirts, prison training, and more!

photoHere’s the top 5 for the week ending 05/17- as always, no particular order of importance- just five things we’re grateful for this week!

1. Sozo held it’s monthly “jam session.” The monthly dinner and worship and training session is being held down the street from our ministry facility at Berney Points Baptist Church, who has opened their home to Brannon and the Sozo Team.

2. We took our neighborhood president out for lunch! Gwendolyn Cook-Bibb has been a fantastic supporter of The Village and a board member for the past two years, since we moved into her neighborhood. Pray for her- a few weeks ago, she lost a great husband. This week a few of us enjoyed some time with her at a local neighborhood restaurant.

3. New thrift store t-shirts! They’re pictured above. We’ve got them for our Thrift staff… so you’ll be able to identify them when you arrive. We’ve got brown (with yellow writing) on the way- as well as yellow with brown writing. They’ll also be available for sell for $10.00. Buy one and show your love!

4. Alabama Justice Ministries Network held training at The Village. In January, the ministry moved into our facility. This Saturday, they ran a prison training for 15 people who will go side-by-side with them into the local jails and state prisons. They have been at this the longest, and are the most consistent… and the best… and “behind the fence” prison ministry. We’re honored to partner with them!

5. David went back to prison. Our program director, David Gatlin, went to West Jefferson / Donaldson Correctional this Friday- as part of the ongoing effort to help guys behind the fence build bridges to places that can help them on the outside.

Top 5, week ending 05/10- 1st week at Thrift, more interns, house donations, congrats to graduates!, new program

Here we go… the Top 5 for the week ending 05/10. As always, items are in no particular order of importance- just five more things we’re grateful for.

1. Thrift store finishes first week! We had a great first week- we’ve been open since May 1. I’ve posted a vide here that explains what we do with the money that we receive from the sales.

2. Two more interns. Recently, Brown Mackie, a local tech school (think electronics and other things like “ITT Tech” used to do) has sent a few interns to The Village. These guys work for about 160 hours- full-time, and have been incredibly helpful in running wires, hooking TVs up in the thrift store, and doing a few other “tech things” we’ve needed done.

3. The new program at The Village started this week. Now, classes start earlier in the morning- and everything “crash courses” into the first 9 weeks. Everyone completes quicker, and moves into full-time employment more readily. We’re excited about some of the changes we’re rolling out that make things a lot smoother for everyone.

4. We were offered three houses this week! We’re working through the logistics of the donation as I type. The houses are all located within about one miles of our current location, making a possible easy- exit for residents who leave us and want to have a rental property of their own when they leave (instead of program housing).

CarriePate5. Congrats to Carrie. She graduated a week ago, marking a year clean. She has a full time job and is ready to move into an apartment of her own as soon as it’s open.


Top 5, week ending 05/03- Thrift opens! Oola books, new bunks, staff hall, and Casual for a Cause!

So, here’s the top 5 for the week ending 05/03/2014. As always, these are five things we  are grateful for in the past week. They’re written in no particular order of importance.

1. The Village Thrift is now open! Thursday, May 1st, we opened the doors for the first time. Now, we’re off and rolling. For now, the store is open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm. Over the next few weeks we’ll expand those hours from 8am to 7pm!

Watch the short video above. The store looks amazing- the guys have done an incredible job getting things in order and making it happen.

Thanks, too, for your continued donations. Our dropbox locations are updated on the thrift ttore website. We’re happy to send our truck your way, too, if that’s more convenient.

2. Bunks from Fresh Air Two weeks ago we received a call from Fresh Air, a Presbyterian Camp not too far from us (they are located in Bluff Park). They are moving from an “overnight” camp to a “day camp” and had dozens of metal bunks they donated to us. This is a great step up from the wooden bunks we made and had been using.

Thanks, Fresh Air!IMG_0030

3. The staff facility is open. We have a few ceiling tiles to place after the alarm system is complete, but the staff facility is complete. This is where we house interns and others who work with the ministry as they learn.

OolaAtTheVillage4. Oola books! We received a shipment from the Oola crew this week- 8 cases of their international best seller book that has been sold out until just now! The book is about living a life of balance and growth, of walking ahead into your destiny. We’re excited about taking our residents at The Village through this material- all made possible because of a charity book give away that Oola has built into the fabric of their company.

Troy and Dave, the Oola guys, are fantastic story-tellers, and very gracious communicators who I met while spending some time with Cristy in Hawaii a few months ago.

Thanks, Oola!

5. UCP Casual Friday. Technically, this one happened last week.  We were excited, as a staff, to support the UCP’s efforts. They are located about a mile from our facility and have been gracious hosts to us over and over and over… allowing us to use their facilities for everything from worship services to church meetings…

Thanks, UCP!

photo 4