Birmingham nonprofits restoring hope this Christmas

Published: Dec. 25, 2022 at 10:50 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - While many us spend the holidays with family and friends, some of our neighbors aren’t as fortunate. For those who may feel lonely during this holiday, nonprofits across central Alabama are opening their doors and their arms.

Dozens of people who might normally feel lonely or isolated during the holidays were able to share food and fellowship with each other, even while working through some really difficult hardships.

“Christmas season is supposed to be about spending time with family and spreading the joy, experiencing happiness,” said Ki’Jung Thomas, a resident at Brother Bryan Mission. “But especially these days that joy and happiness sometimes can be like an illusion and a lot of people are hurt but they tend to mask it and hide it really well.”

The holiday season can bring up positive feelings and negative ones.

“Many of the men here haven’t been in touch with their families in a long time for obvious reasons and because of that, you begin to feel alienated,” said Brother Bryan Mission chaplain Troy Walker.

The big difference in making or breaking a holiday can be fellowship with other people. Walker says when you’re able to sit down to a meal and conversation, it can restore some people’s dignity.

Many of the people at these tables Sunday are dealing with and recovering from some of life’s hardest challenges like homelessness, abuse, addiction, and domestic violence.

Brother Bryan Mission and Pathways Home for Women and Children are just two nonprofits that WBRC visited out of dozens in the area restoring hope in the hopeless this Christmas.

Raven Mallory, one of the youngest residents at Pathways, says the women have taken her in as one of their own: “I call them mama!”

“When one of us hurt, we all hurt,” said Pathways resident Melissa Burke. “So it means a lot to know I’ve got young and older women here that understand what I’m going through.”

“Being around my church family, I didn’t feel so lonely and I felt worthy in a sense,” said Thomas.

It’s part of what Christmas is all about.

“Enjoy your family,” said Walker. “Enjoy the turkey but realize everybody doesn’t have that. Everybody doesn’t have that. And to see people here with smiles on their face, that restores the spirit of Christmas.”

“Any hardship, any hard time, loss, it does crack our heart,” said Thomas. “But the light that god gives us through the spirit in our heart can shine through those cracks.”

Brother Bryan Mission and Pathways Home for Women and Children work throughout the year to help those in need, not just on Christmas. If you feel led to give back to either organization, you can click the donation links.

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