Even though this is a movie cover, the words resonate with me and hopefully hit home with you.
"Dr. Keel invited me to his investiture last year, I was a guest and he had me come sing. I was absolutely honored to be there and he wanted me to be a part of that. Even for the whole day, a part of the luncheon, I was able to attend that and even after the ceremony, just being there and it was great. I remember him specifically saying in his speech, “He called me his unsung hero and I was like THAT IS COOL!!” This is just an appetizer and the main course is below.The smile says a thousand words and lights up the room.
"Hi I’m Eunice Byrd and I work in EVS which is environmental services in Allgood Hall on the second floor. Well, we keep the environment clean, meaning we basically clean, keep the environment clean. I keep the second floor up to par, the bathrooms, I clean those bathrooms every day. The classrooms on the north side, as well as The Writing Center, keep those areas clean as well as the Hallways, offices and suites on this floor. So, I am responsible for keeping those clean. Pulling trash, in the Atrium area, keeping the Atrium area clean. I have had a couple of students ask “What time do y’all get here? So, you know, our shift starts at 5 a.m., Monday through Friday”. So we are here from 5 a.m., to 1:30 every day. Yes, I mean had several professors and even some students who have taken the time to say,” Hey you know what we appreciate you guys and what you do. You know we would not make it without you guys, because we keep the place clean”. I find being on the Augusta University staff rewarding. I have been here two years It has been two years January the twelfth, and I have met a lot of great people here. So, I really appreciate the people here that have shown and let me know, “Hey I really appreciate what you do and that we don’t take it for granted”. So that means a lot. Even with the President, Dr. Keel. Just his whole mind set about people in the work place, people with my position and just showing appreciation and letting us know that “We appreciate what you do here”. This motivates you and keeps you going. It makes you feel like it’s not in vain. It helps get up the next day and come back. I’ve had a couple of personal conversations with Dr. Keel. Dr. Keel invited me to his investiture last year, I was a guest and he had me come sing. I was absolutely honored to be there and he wanted me to be a part of that. Even for the whole day, a part of the luncheon, I was able to attend that and even after the ceremony, just being there and it was great. I remember him specifically saying in his speech, “He called me his unsung hero and I was like THAT IS COOL!!” I would say that singing is a hidden talent that a lot of people do not know I have because singing is something I’ve done all my life. A lot of people know now because I been afforded the opportunity to sing at some of the games. Dr. Keel was able to hear me sing a game which was Homecoming Basketball Game last year and he was like “I want her at my ceremony”. I mean literally two days after that I got a phone call. I was wow that is so cool!!! It was like an adrenaline rush, I have always sang in front of big crowds, I actually like it. It was a moment, a proud moment for me because I felt I was able to honor him on that special day. Reigning him in as president of the university officially, so he was really awesome. Absolutely, I have always had the desire to go beyond just singing for a hobby. I would love to do that for a living and be able to take care of my family. Yes, there are some plans, but just getting ready and preparing for the doors to open I can do that, but in the meantime I am happy right here in the area cleaning. You know what, I really do like RNB, and Gospel music as well because those are my roots. I grew up singing in church and that where I learned everything that I know as far vocal control and a lot of training came from my dad. I’ll sing anything I don’t care what it is, country I will sing I will even do rap to music or anything. You have to be open when it comes to music. You cannot be close minded. I have always been open to new music and pot over the years. A huge impact, every aspect of my life pretty much, because I have been singing all my life. My grandmother started me singing when I was two years old. Music is something that keeps me sane. Singing is something I do not take for granted. So, you, know, when people ask me about singing whether I am getting compensated I am doing it just to do it, it keeps me in a head space that is necessary, because there are so many things going on in the world, it is so easy to get down and depressed. I am grateful for the gift, Indeed, it is a gift and I do not take it for granted. I just hope one day that I can reach millions of people.” EUNICE Byrd- Environmental Services
Eunice Byrd lady of song and a women at your service.
Executive director (left) Latoya Hardman and Case Manager Karenia Clark underneath their old logos sign.
- Life entails adjustments to circumstances that people encounter every day. These adjustments can alter the lives of families and people living throughout the world. People traverse this world and their decisions decided upon can alter lives for success or failure. These decisions have significant magnification on the families or person’s life. Homeless life magnifies every decision made as critical and crucial when people forge through their day, especially, when families are involved and that is where organizations like Family Promise of Augusta (Former Interfaith Hospitality of Augusta, Inc.) lending hands in engaging, assisting homeless people and families in revitalizing their lives.
Expansion of Family Promise has extended nationally with over 200 organizations and started on a national scale in 1986. The local chapter integrated the family idea in 1998. Executive Director of Family Promise of Augusta and former Augusta State alumna Latoya Hardman speaks to the organizations mission. “Our mission is basically to help families regain their independence permanently,” Hardman says. “So, whatever way that may be from the shelter that we provide for them, the transportation that we provide for them, the cost-free day care center.” The organization dedicates every resource they can to helping families and people regain independence, Hardman said. To garner help with looking for jobs, building resumes and other activities the people will venture to the zero-cost day center. This center is free of charge to their families as this is a center hub for them gaining help and advice with searching for jobs to help stabilize the everyday lives of the families. Revitalizing independence is a crucial key in assisting the homeless and Family Promise helped 44 individuals obtain independence, Hardman said. Interspersed throughout the makeup of the 44 individuals that stepped into the organization are 27 children that were reconnected with independence along with 15 families in 2016.
One of the initial steps is interviewing the families and Family Promise of Augusta does their best to obtain 15 interviews for acceptance into their program a month at least. This number could accelerate depending on needs for the families that inquire about Family Promise Case Manager at Family Promise of Augusta and Former Augusta State University alumna Karenia Clark details what she seeks in the interviews she partakes in with the clients.
“Well, my background is in sociology.” Clark said, “So, if I can see that urge and that want to help themselves. Then, I know that they will do most of the work which is what we really look for.”
This number fluctuates depending on the family situation and circumstances of the families hoping to break into the program. Before the families are accepted into the program the families begin the interview process and one of the people who has an in- person interview with the families is Family Promise Case Manager Clark discusses the types of questions she brings to the interview. “Well, I guess patterns, the questions that we ask kind of get to the patterns or the decisions that they have made throughout their lives.” Clark said, “How did they get into the situation?” This is one example of gearing the questions toward behavioral style questions. They aim to usher in 5 interviews a week.
Once the interviewees acquire acceptance into the program they migrate to one of 23 churches Family Promise engages in a working relationship with. Venturing through a day for the adults, Family Promise implements applying for a minimum number of seven jobs per day for the adults who are not in a job already. Adults can apply for any job or career they please with two stipulations. The first one is If they have their own transportation methods, Family Promise has a cut off time of 9.p.m. before they must be back at the church. They must get back by 9 p.m. The other is for anyone relying on Family Promises transportation service. The transportation service escorts everyone back to the churches by 5 p.m. The churches offer one overnight meal, one breakfast and accommodations to the families. Family Promise also is in contact with social workers from the schools in Columbia and Richmond counties to refer students to their program who are homeless. They offer transportation for the CSRA homeless people involved in their program and do the legwork for transporting people to work and school. This will ask some students to transfer schools because of distance of travel in accordance with school start times. The children and adults migrate back to the church after their days are done. There is an option for some mentoring classes for the adults to partake in. One budgeting class that takes place every second Saturday. There are also parenting classes that are in the works.
One of the last steps is transitional housing where Family Promise sets up the family to succeed living on their own with their own bills for six months to a year and the organization does issue the family a mentor to help the family. Family Promise furbishes household items and furniture for the families in transitional houses. Families who enter transitional housing are asked to save up to a max 30 percent of their income. This may, however, depending on the case begin at a lower percent and gradually graduate them to a higher percentage with the cap remaining as 30 percent. Family Promise has up to five transitional houses with one house housing up to three families because this house has the occupancy of three units.
Family Promise anchors down two major fundraiser events. The first event is slated for March 3, 2017 through-March 4, 2017, and that is Cardboard City and Cardboard City is an experience where people can live out what it is like to be homeless for 24 hours at First Baptist Church of Augusta. The second anchors up as a golf marathon event on Oct. 30, 2017. Each golfer raises at least $2,500 for the event. This one event generates $80,000 to $100,000 in one day and this flows right back into the program. Also, the organization receives grants to help pay for the transportation and other functions as well as individual donations.
This is a one stop shop entering through the program with over 80 percent success rate graduating through the program. Once families migrate out of the program, the families are hunkered down in the trenches of their existing jobs established through the program and are well on their way to prosper outside of the system with the tools given to them from Family Promise. The promise and system includes a Promise…Resurrection…. and Stability with the homeless who want to succeed.
Augusta University Women's Golf Star
Journey: Eyes For Dreams and Trails Of Swings
Jessica taking her hack and creating force through the hips and lower legs to create drive and torque as she drives through the golf ball
Imagine a person living their dream job and the memories that are created there. Or an individual retiring from their dream job, reflecting on the memories created there and the emotions that are conjured when reflecting on those times. Take these two emotional situations and mix in a lady who on the cusp and on the fringe of forging her dream into reality. Immersed in this reality stands Women’s Golfer Jessica Haigwood as she is entrenched in driving home her senior season for Augusta University.
What started out as a dream for Haigwood migrated into a reality under a massive and heartfelt influence. “It all started out as a little girl. My dad has always loved the game and he pushed me hard to keep up and pursue my dream to get a scholarship and I played Junior Golf for many years,” Haigwood said. “I finally had coaches follow me and email me back and forth. One of the things that the Augusta Coach told me was that I get to play Augusta National and when they said that I immediately wanted to go here.”
Admiration of golf gravitated Haigwood to start out at a very youthful age with a club in her grasp and her dad at her side. “I have been practically playing when I have been in diapers. But, I have pictures of me in diapers swinging a golf club. I would keep swinging and then I started playing competitively when I was 7 or 8 years old,” Haigwood said. “I would do U.S.A. kids tournaments and I would win.” Playing with heart, passion and fire allows for improvement in any sport and displays a rigorous and viscous work ethic that shattered daylight and opened massive opportunity for Haigwood. “I started to compete more and more competitively through bigger tournaments. that how I was recognized through the college coaches, Haigwood said. “Once I started playing in those coaches started following me and offering me scholarships.”
Reliving sports memories that are witnessed on television from fans is one avenue of connection to the sports that they enjoy and commemorate as timeless. Haigwood creates memories every game she is on the golf course. “I have had so many good memories with golf. I have a memory of when I was a little girl coming here to The Augusta National to watch The Masters for the very first time being little and walking through those gates and seeing that big golf course. It’s just breath taking, and it opened my eyes to what I could accomplish,” Haigwood said. “Memories of my having my first hole- in- one, winning My first tournament, getting all the awards that you work so hard for, kind of helps push me more to achieve more goals.”
Aspirations conjure up as a good motivational tool especially when Haigwood has had a chance to play on the same Masters green as some of the golfers she has admired. she has been afforded the opportunity to roam the same course, see the same views as the people who captured her eyes growing up.
“I have always wanted to me Arnold Palmer. He is my hero. He is the person I always have looked up to and he is like the Gentleman of Golf. There is not a single bad thing a person can say about him. It definitely is Arnold Palmer for me,” Haigwood said. Her eyes are captivated more by the men’s side of the game. There is a possibility of staking ground in the PGA as that is not out of the realm of possibility for her. With any professional athlete, the road is strenuous and some advice can be the right injection to lift their spirits and keep pursing their dreams and with Haigwood advice has been the right dose of medicine to keep her under par.
“I am a very individualistic person and I am not a technical person through golf. I have been struggling with myself trying to keep up with everyone else through technical stuff. I have to realize that I am not a technical person,” Haigwood said. “I am more of a feel person. I am more of a do not let things bother me and play the game. My dad would always say just go out there and swing at the ball, just hit it, do not think about anything just hit it; because if you have thoughts in your head, if you think about your swing, if you think about other things you get so stuck in your head that you mess up, and you lose your strokes.”
Strategy is surging through the game of golf. From the swings, to the approach, to adjusting altering weather conditions. From torque in a player’s body through the motion and every avenue. Even down to the clubs the players carry in their bags.
“Oh, there is a lot of strategy. We all are fitted to a certain club and I am currently hitting Taylormade. They were fitted to my swing and how fast I swing it,” Haigwood said. “Once, I got all those numbers they give me the clubs and I go out there and get my averages just like we learn in math. I would hit the ball five times and I would add those up and divide by the number I hit. For instance, if I hit a 7-iron and hit my 7 -iron 160 yards. I would hit it five time and then add it up and then I would average 160. That is how I would know how far I hit each club and then I would average ever single club in my bag, with the exception of my putter. That how we know how far our clubs go by playing consistent and hitting the ball over and over again until we know how far we hit it.”
Partaking in sports is riveting, but amps up a strenuous amount of work and training. especially at Augusta University athletics have early riser work out sessions early in the morning. Passion for the sport helps propel athletes to navigate to the early workouts and persevere through the workout. Haigwood elaborated on just a taste of her training regimen to be Golf ready.
“Our coaches schedule work out two times a week On Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 o’clock in the morning. We get there and we warm up with cardio and run around Christenberry Fieldhouse about three times to warm up our bodies,” Haigwood said. “We go back into our hitting bay which we have weights and all these other things in there. Coach sets up a circuit and there is about nine stations and in each station, there is a player. We do it for about a minute and then we rotate. Each station is different we have push-up, burpees, running on the treadmill, weight lifting, lunges and a lot of different exercises. Each morning is different and we do not do the same thing every morning. We do yoga on Fridays to use to the balance and stretching techniques to help us not to be so tight. Then we have 3 hour practices every day and qualifying on the weekends.”
Jessica is well versed is adversity. The impact of adversity on sports players can be very detrimental. Jessica through piercing and debilitating times combats adversity with a comforting demeanor. She elaborated she used to be entrenched in gymnastics and mentions for any slip up on balance and or any exercise your own the tiniest slips can have point deducted from your score. Rebounds are possible if birdies are missed or eagles slightly cannot unite with the hole and roll in. there are avenues of making pars eagles and another birdie on a separate hole to ascend from your mistakes Jessica said.
Mistakes made allows for fresh starts and coming down the stretch to her final Tournament in Augusta at Forest Hills. Haigwood was locked and loaded destroying every hole in route to her record breaking tournament of 12 under par score compiling a total of 66 for the event.
“When I went in for the first-round I was telling myself ‘I am a senior. this is my last home event. It was kind of bittersweet. I wanted to finish and not have any regrets’, Haigwood said. "I left so many birdies out there. I felt so frustrated. I shot a 71 which is not bad at all, but I still wanted to shoot better. The next day came out with the same attitude, I had fun and played my best and I shot 66 and it was almost like an out of body experience.”
An out of body experience of elation and fun wrapped up the second round of play for Haigwood traversing to the final round the final round came calling and she experienced an avalanche of pressure on her to perform her best and magic ensued.
“I felt a huge rock on my chest and I was shaking. Everyone told me that I was carrying myself well, but inside I felt like I was screaming and I was nervous the whole day, Haigwood said. “I was very confident and relaxed and I just wanted to have fun and end it on a good note on my last home event and I did. I am so lucky that I got to win my last home event. I was a fun memory and something that I can look back on.”
She does enjoy visiting family when she has the time. Also, she has a hobby of being a photographer. She has been in demand for weddings, and other pivotal life celebration engagements. Her eyes for dreams has left a blazing trail of swings as she is currently seeking to venture into qualifying for the LPGA in August maneuvering through qualifying school with 3 stages entwined with the school. If she burst through the cut in the first and second stage and marches through stage three she will obtain her LPGA card.
Her hoisting up A master's plaque at the #m Augusta Invitational tournement
You always have to keep score and carry your own equipment
Behind the scenes Executive Director Rusty Marsh
- Survival of the fittest, implies a cornucopia of heart, a ferociously focus mind, an unstaunched will that is formidable in superbly harsh world situations and weather conditions. Survival, Survival of the fittest for the homeless is an imminent and imperative lifestyle. Especially; for an individual whose family, home, identity, the necessities, and life is extinguished on sometimes a moment’s notice. The homeless revert to sleeping in the streets or in a vehicle in the scorching summer heat or the icy dead of winter. Combating homelessness centers around a tedious and arduous lifestyle where food, water, clothing mirror a desert mirage in difficulty to come by alone with dwindling to non-existent options left to navigate. Fate crashes down but hope comes calling to form new habits, construct a new vitality to life and transform the art of thinking and decision making intertwine within the services of a prominent Augusta, Ga. homeless shelter known as the Augusta Rescue Mission.
Enter into the 1960’s when the mission ignited and broke ground venturing in as a homeless shelter organization in 1965 through the vision of Robert and Daisy Moon. The mission started out sheltering men and women but decided where they could be of most help would be sheltering men. The board of the mission finds it much easier to help keep the men separate from the women in this stance.
The mission has a kitchen who helps feed men, women, and children, but the stressor here is that the shelter revolves around exclusively men.
The mission strives and thrives in lending a helping hand to navigate men in their shelter back to prominence and a second chance to re-solidify their lives. The central art of the program centers around life lessons and transformations with a staff that dishes out a bevy of a little something most people display. Love is a top-notch feature that the staff exhibits daily for its members. Love extends an exquisite feature that entails a wide variety of backgrounds that the men in the shelter migrate from. Executive Director Rusty Marsh elaborates on the backdrop some of it members are escaping from.”It’s men who are down on their luck. Men who have lost their jobs and lost income,” Marsh said. “Some of the men have drug or alcohol issues, not all of them, but some of them. they spiral down. when they come here we are the last chance. We take them in and show them love.”
The men experience help in avalanche of ways. One avenue lends a hand to help them re-surface and surge through glass ceilings with both feet bursting through the glass.” We help them get jobs. We have a 100 percent success rate in locating jobs for our men” Marsh said. This avenue is stationed in their residential program.
Anchoring down with another avenue that embraces a distinguishing light that separates Augusta Rescue Mission into a league of their own as Marsh has the floor. “We provide pro bono dental and doctor visits and then we also provide for their medicines,” Marsh said.
The mission sheds light on alternate program for encase for an emergency stay. March embarks on a more detailed explanation on the overnight homeless men shelter. “We have 26 beds for that. Usually we fill up about half of them,” Marsh said. They work with sister’s organizations to house men in inclement weather situations.” I remember one year, it was so cold that Salvation army called us. They asked to you have any beds?” Marsh said. “I said send them on down we will open up the Television room.”
Navigating toward the residential program, the program initiates a three-phase process. Marsh details how the residential program is quintessential in regaining stability.
“Phase One they come in for six months. Phase two: they acquire a job and start saving money,” Marsh said. “Phase three they are launching out in total life transformation. They have their own dwellings.” This process amps up to saving money, paying bills, purchasing a transportation vehicle in phase three.
The mission in addition to the emergency overnight stay program they inscribed a 15-day emergency stay program they can apply for the residential program while engaged in the emergency program. Interviews is one of the processes cultivated by the mission in advance of acceptance to pinpoint whether or not the mission would be the right mission for the candidates. Sitting across the desk from the interviewees for tier second question air stations the Chaplain and Program Manager Chris Jones. “I ask some pretty solid questions,” Jones said. “I try to figure out if that individual is well suited for this environment. ” Some of the questions are creative like “Have you ever been locked up,” Jones said. “If you have, what have you done to get locked up.” Jones then delves into more specifics ranks. ” We usually do not take anyone in who has a current income,” Jones, said.” Our goal is to get them to where they are working full time.” The acceptance process is headed up by Program Manager and Chaplain Chris Jones and Operations Manager Jerry Doyle. The men understand what they are signing up for with six months of training before seeking out jobs.
After they are accepted into the program the program looks for a social security card and birth certificate to usher an easier process with assisting in job searches. They help with the financials fess in obtaining these certificates if the men lose them. Resume building and job searches anchor into to phase two.
The avenues of each phase ask the men to be dedicated and hold their own. March provides an explanation of the inner workings of phase number one. “They are involved in life skill classes, as well as, job interview training,” Marsh said. “They are receiving back the certificates that they have lost, the men take classes and work on three Willis Avery Discipleship Books during this phase. Jones goes a little deeper into what they are studying and reading to educate the brain. “We do a book called the Master Life and there are books three the Disciples Cross, The Disciples Personality and the Disciple’s Victory,” Jones said. “We are a Christ centered program.” Phase one is in action for six months with flexibility for three additional months. The books converse about conquering addiction, anger issues and other demons like that, Jones said.
The organization work with churches to come minister to the men and forge relationships that may broker into a job it the bond between the church and the man is forged.
Phase two acclimates to job environments and obtaining the job. While working they shoot a report over to the chaplain to keep an eye out on if the men are saving money. March shoots into more detail on saving. “The men save up to 60 percent of their earnings,” Marsh said. “If they have tidings to the church they are asked to save 50 percent.”
Phase three ushers in a new light of independence. Launch out of the program and regain independence. They enter their transitional housing period in phase three with responsibilities, bills and independence. A portion of the men who have graduated from phase three have rejuvenated their family life from ruin to synergy and being a family once again. Fathers being restored to their daughters, men reconnecting with their spouse. Typically; this phase anchors up the final leg on the year in the program. Also, once they complete the program and produce a viable report to the chaplain to show they are saving money The Augusta Rescue will shoot in to supplement their rent up to 200 greenback.
Screw-ups are horrid on the reputation. The mission has implemented the old three strikes and he’s out policy. If a guy slips up either an oral or written warning will be navigated down. There is a second warning and then the out pitch and the heave-ho. There is only a one stop shop approach to the program. Jones picks up the relationships with the members as not only one of their bosses, but as counselor to the men as well and he has a description for the worst things he has seen. “In these types of environments and in society a lot of times, we address people’s behaviors,” Jones said. “You see somebody doing drugs. They are an addict. Very often; we neglect to see that maybe that a form of self-medicating for a deeper pain.” He extrapolates on the hardest things he’s seen personally. “What seems to be harder to me, is that when you have worked with a person for a certain number of months and you have built this communication throughout the relationship and they still lie to themselves or to others,” Jones said. “that’s very hard because with that mentality, you never see them reach an understanding that they can be free. It is almost like a sense of denial.”
Installed into the mission is a heavy faith base influence that helps steer the men spiritually, mentally, and physically in the right direction under the eye of God. The teachings are from the Word of God and a bevy of the life skills and budgeting classes that are taught have biblical influences installed in them. The spirit, soul, body and mind is incorporated into a total transformation, Marsh said. These teaching not only teach mental, spiritual, and physical aspects, but this also devises character driven aspects to these teaching for the men to become stronger and “prepare them for whatever is out there,” Marsh said.
Volunteers can help in many facets with the mission in two predominant ways now in transportation and helping feed the families with distribution of food with the kitchen aspect of the mission. Contact the Augusta Rescue Mission for more information.
Through various donations, scholarships and events has the mission secured funds to help support the organization and one event is a Dinner with Champions, event that saw John Smoltz as the keynote speaker with Bill Curry as guest speaker. There is a huge Christmas event that a person will adopt one of the of men for Christmas and have presents under the Christmas tree for them. The Rescue mission for the Dinner with Champions event sold 40 table at $1,000 bucks a pop.
The men have someone to look up to who has been through the rigors of being homeless, fighting with every breath, to overcome being homeless. This man not only survived being homeless through entering the Augusta Rescue Mission but has reconnected and restored his family. This man also fought and overcame an addiction that destroyed him. Part 2 is the source for this story. The man they can look up to is their very own Operations Manager Jerry “JD” Doyle.
Advice inserted into a person life can be a pivotal swing in the right direction as the life transformation process begins. Especially from someone who has directly traversed in the same shoes as these homeless in form of Operations Manager Jerry” JD” Doyle.
Doyle experiences with this gives him a unique and engaging perspective for advice in homelessness. “Do not lose hope. Today is a new day,” Doyle said. “This is another day and another opportunity to get it right. There is hope for today. You have to want that hope. You got to want that desire, then things will start to get better. When there is only pain and no pleasure that is when things will change.”
Through strong focus of hope and faith Marsh supplements his final verbal offering of advice to anyone going through a rigorous time and folks who are homeless. “You are never without hope, if, you have God,” Marsh said. You are never without hope as long as you have your faith.” Faith and Character drive the men at the Rescue Mission with a mission of rebuilding lives in Christ.
Chaplain and Program Manager Chris Jones
Star of the Augusta Rescue Mission Show Jerry Doyle posing for his close up.
Wrap this in the noggin, A 50 percent ownership of a business in lock and load under control. A recipient of a full and complete ride to lace up the cleats in College Football, a Family with elation, trust, love, and happiness surges through rock bottom to where a fathers own daughter looks at the person with dead in her eyes and doesn’t murmur a word or syllable to her father. The spouse urging to for the husband to inquire and obtain some help but ultimately places the kibosh on trying to work through the issues, but ultimately distributes a boot to throw him out of the house. Everything the man has ever work for, built with his own two hands has vanished all because of dabbling in crack that migrated into an addiction. The only friend that was available was the cold, hard and unforgiving streets and his vehicle by his side. Food, Clothing and shelter were extremely rigorous to come by. A harsh reality for one Jerry “JD” Doyle.
Doyle rode the waves of tribulations growing up as his mother tap out to life at the tender age of nine. The Swainsboro, Ga. native navigated the seas of turbulence when his first kid came into this world in the Junior season in high school. He then had extra martial affairs and said goodbye to a football scholarship in college and traversed home to care for his kid. The not so fruitful decisions did not end there, he dabbled in crack. His father thought he would help Doyle and start him off on the right foot and drop 50 percent ownership of his business in Doyle’s lap. That was squandered shortly thereafter and the tribulations continue to surmount on Doyle’s back. Puncture wound after puncture wound penetrates Doyle, Doyle is bleeding but not dead yet. “I am a fighter and a winner,” Doyle said. “I get back up.” Doyle delves deeper into his resiliency and perseverance “You knock me down today. You are going to have to knock me down tomorrow,” Doyle said. Passion not only exudes here but also in the passionate realm of sports. He correlates a bevy of life circumstances to sports circumstances to help him to see life better. At 14 years, old he was climbing up on top of roofs helping his dad out. His work ethic thrived was tailored in this environment. His work ethic spilled over into his memories.
“I am strong on family. Being able to take care of my kids and motivate them means the world to me,” Doyle said. “Education is the key. I was determined that my kids were not going down the same road I went down.” His fondest memories revolve around being in the floor helping his kids become educated. He stepped in and was the motivation behind his son staying in college and not marrying a recent college graduate who shot over to Washington D.C. for her career. If he had tied the knot he would not have wrapped up college with a degree, Doyle said.
In addition to saying good bye to his mother, JD also mourned the death of his dad in 1989. Here is Doyle on the effects of losing his parents. “It was like a one two knockout punch, Doyle said. “I lost them both in December of 1989 and one in 1990.”
His aunt was the one who stepped into the driver’s seat and took care of him after that. She was his “rock” and talk to him about anything and everything and enlightened him with advice. With his aunt behind him, his dream job was be a referee or coach in college sports and in the professional rankings in the NFL or the NBA. His dreams never came to fruition because of the addiction to the drug crack and this addiction lead his life spiraling into earthly hell. He then married crack and neglected his family. Doyle converses about the initial moment that struck him he was without everything. “I would say the moment where my wife said ‘Hey come get your stuff. Its outside underneath the car port,’” Doyle said. “It hit me that I was homeless and did not have anywhere to go.” He then talks about what it is like being homeless, “It is like digging a hole. Digging a hole, you cannot climb out of,” Doyle said. “I think a lot of people have been in it so long that they think this is it. That is the lie the devil tells you. This is the way it is supposed to be. I could never accept that.” He lets the homeless know that this is not the end of life or the end of the road. Take out all the negativity in life and infuse primitiveness in life.
Venturing through homelessness his pride navigated him away from any help and family that would help. Doyle did get a response from the people who saw him in the homeless state. “they said I was like a dressed-up garbage can,” Doyle said. He migrated his truck at night somewhere and sleep in the vehicle.
Effecting all aspects of life is homelessness a debilitating curse. It pounds you down into submission, Doyle said. “You go deeper into the cycle, the rat race and the hustler,” Doyle said. “The hustle and bustle, the line. When that ain’t you, that the mental part. My biggest running back is a president of a bank down in Swainsboro. I went in there and lied to him and he gave me $300.” Six months after this incident Doyle came back with 600 dollars and his running back noted that he just wanted his friend back and not to worry about the money. That killed Doyle emotionally.
Doyle had a chance to mosey home at any point throughout being homeless, but the marriage to crack solidified living in his turbulent homeless lifestyle where he did not care about his family and all he cared about was crack and where to get the next piece of the crack action. This trend got so dark at one point that Doyle recalls his darkest times in homelessness. “It was cold one night, I am talking about freezing cold I am hungry, I ain’t got nowhere to go, “Doyle said. “I ain’t got gas in the truck to warm the truck up. My daughter said at ten or eleven years old ‘Mama it is cold tonight. Can we please take daddy some blankets to the truck to warm him up?” This was the lowest point in his life because of the realization he was not only hurting himself but he the effect and toll it was taking on his kids and seeing them cry.
Doyle gained ears about the Augusta Rescue Mission through his sister and his sister brought him to the mission. While at the mission he re-focusses on God. Doyle went through an interview process and in the interview, process he told the chaplain Chris Jones that “I had to be somewhere,” Doyle said. “I was headed back to prison if I was not somewhere.” The Augusta Rescue Mission Chaplain and Program Manager Chris Jones iterated his response when Doyle expressed to him this phrase. “I am a very compassionate person. I realized the man was here and wanting what we offered. That meant a lot to me,” Jones said. “I respect that. I respect people who do harder things. It is harder to stay here and put parameters on yourself. It is easier to go back to jail. You have options. I think he made a wise choice.” Jones went on to say that he could tell Doyle had a passion for the program and that he really believed it could transform his life
The Executive Director and his current boss Rusty Marsh spoke about his relationship with Doyle and how he did through the program.
“Jerry came in when I got here 7 years ago. He came through the program. His is truly one of the success stories because when he came through the program, a lot of the guys they struggle with and do not like the discipline, this would derail some people. This did not phase him at all,” Marsh said. “He came through the program, had a few friends, He did his program He has restored his family.” He is synched into the work force with the mission as Operations Manager today. Marsh praised his work ethics with leading by example when yardwork come up Doyle is rolling up his sleeves and in the trenches with the men working, Marsh said. “He is a true leader of men,” Marsh said. “Somebody they can look up to and respect.” Marsh sums it all up in one phrase, “JD is a man of faith,” Marsh said.
Doyle explains a little bit about the third stage in a three-phase process. “Phase three is a safety net, the members purchase a vehicle, save money start paying bills, ”Doyle said. “I was a little anxious, but I knew God had me. I was trusting in Him. I was reading and studying ever day in the Word of God. I was ready to take on phase three. This teaches you to live independently again.” The Augusta Rescue Mission Chaplain and Program Manager Chris Jones chimes in with how Doyle grew in this program. ”He did his homework. He did his work retail. He was always a voice of reason for other residents,” Jones said. “He was really responsible with his finances. He was really responsible with staying accountable.”
Through tenacity and perseverance through God, Doyle overcame homelessness and has reconnected with his family. He also, is serving the mission in an Operation Manager capacity and is a key mentor in helping the men and advising the men through the same situation he experienced.
He also mentors people, speaks in chapel in their chapel program, a lot of ordering needs for the mission and other tasks the mission asks him to do including interviews. He leads by example with doing work like yard work to show the guys accountability.
Doyle sees a lot of issues come into the mission but he sheds light of one aspect. he tries to help with.
“I see a lot of mental health issues from the guys around here. I say 75 percent of the issues is mental health issues,” Doyle said. ”I would like to see the shelter expand to a women’s shelter. I get calls about that all the time. I wish we had a bigger combination.” Doyle then talks about how neat the operation is. “We are like the Hilton of the area,” Doyle said.
Doyle talks with the guys, but it is ultimately up to the guys to succeed “I ain’t got no Heaven or Hell to put you in,” Doyle said. “I am going to tell you just like it is. You are doing the same thing that Billy Bob is doing. Where is Billy Bob at? He is back in jail, or back on the street.” Doyle round it off with some encouragement “This is the season to build your foundation,” Doyle said.
Through the program, he has had guys come through and make an impact on Doyle. “Billy Carter, I watch him, he Graduated from the University of Alabama, tremendously smart,” Doyle said. “He wanted Christ like I did and we used to sit and talk. He got a job at Home Depot. I know you have a college degree, man, why you working at Home Depot? His reply was like a humbling experience. He told me ‘It is not about the money. I needed to get my relationship with God right. He left that job and came here.” Carter had a phenomenal impact on him.
From the Pitts of atrocity to a full transformation. Doyle embraces chaos and has overcome many obstacles that he goes toe to toe with and emerges victorious. His passion to help is evident and unstaunched.