Machinery, Dancing, and Sweet Sixteens

As a staff, we love it when David* comes in for his weekly appointments. He is personable and easy to like.  You can often find him telling staff about his daughters or talking about how much he loved dancing as a younger man. “I loved every style- Jazz, ballet, tap, footwork, hip hop.  I was always the life of the party.”  “When you dance now, does it embarrass your daughters?” Shalom asked him during their last meeting. “No, no of course not. I’m really good. It’s not embarrassing when I dance.”  


To meet David is to become his friend. When asked to describe himself, he paused a moment and replied simply “I try. That’s all I can say. I try my hardest. I try to always tell the truth.  I always say that I never lie because if I’m ever abducted by aliens, I need my friends to believe me.”  His last comment results in friendly chuckles from the staff in the conference room.  

He is open and eager to learn and to work hard.  He has held a variety of jobs over the last twenty years, most recently working with machinery in a local factory.  He lost his job due to downsizing and came to Hope Works to create a new resume and to get help looking for and applying to jobs.  If you were to sit in on a meeting between him and a community advocate, it would quickly become clear that he is committed to being a good employee.  For him, not only does he want to have a good work ethic, but a paycheck allows him to care for his seven children.  He beams with pride as he talks about his daughter’s math skills. “She’s really good with numbers, I don’t know how she does it. I never liked math.” He shakes his head and laughs. David continues “My daughter’s sweet sixteen birthday party is next week. It’s going to be perfect but it has been a lot of work. We’ve spent weeks planning.” Shalom has him promise that he’ll tell her about the party next time as they schedule another appointment.  

At Hope Works, Shalom and her team get to do more than just help people to prepare for interviews or fill out forms. They learn their stories and bond over the things they have in common. Hope Works is a community inside of a community where people talk about their families and their hobbies.  Everyone who comes through our door brings their story with them and at Hope Works we get to be part of those stories as our clients turn over a new page and start a new chapter.  If you would like to be part of the narrative of hope in Woodlawn, click the button to go to our website and see how you can be involved.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of our client

Want to Learn More?

One of the things we often hear is "How can I learn more?" So we compiled a list of resources that our staff has found helpful for better understanding our community. 

While the readings listed below reflect multiple theological traditions and approaches, we encourage the practice of reading widely to encourage discussion and thoughtful learning.

photo courtesy of Ginny (ginnerobot) on flickr

photo courtesy of Ginny (ginnerobot) on flickr

On Race, Reconciliation, Justice, Equality, and Biblical Perspective

  1. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois

  2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

  3. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

  4. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

  5. Family Properties by Beryl Satter

  6. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam

  7. The Heart of Racial Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil and Rick Richardson

  8. There’s is the Kingdom by Robert Lupton

  9. Race Matters by Dr. Cornel West

  10. The Urban Christian by Ray Bakke and Jim Hart

  11. The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone

  12. Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America by Ronald Sider

  13. Generous Justice by Tim Keller

  14. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith

  15. United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race by Karen Chai Kim, Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, and George Yancey

  16. Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity by Ed Gilbreath

  17. Free at Last? The Gospel in the African-American Experience by Carl Ellis Jr.