Meet Our Board Member: Lisa Haygood

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Lisa Haygood was born in South Atlanta. Her father built a house in the neighborhood next door to Lisa’s grandparents and cousins. She loves this community, and it is has been home to her family for her entire life.  

When FCS first got involved in the neighborhood’s housing, Lisa was serving as the chair of the South Atlanta Civic League, which was partnering with FCS. Haygood says she saw FCS starting where the need was: housing. “Their work grew into the Family Store, followed by the coffee shop and market now,” says Haygood. “I believe it organically grew as they were here. Their work was about what the neighborhood needs.”

She says the work has changed over time and that it has needed to because the neighborhood is always changing as well. “People driving community activities are in tune with what’s going on,” says Haygood.

Haygood is an employee at IBM and has served on the FCS board for about three years. She enjoys offering her voice into the community work. She also says she values the interactions with people she wouldn’t typically meet. “We all have the same goal of being of service to South Atlanta,” she says, “and that humbles me.”

“Many people have lived in South Atlanta because they have no place else to go,” Haygood says. “But that is changing.” She notes that new people are moving into the downtown neighborhood and feels this shift highlights the importance of FCS’ work.

“Structure is needed when things are changing,” Haygood says. “FCS has a vested interest in what change looks like later. FCS has a better understanding of inner city communities than many and while anyone could come in and say, ‘I’m going to be the change agent, FCS is important because they are sensitive to the community.’”

Haygood also notes the important connections FCS has outside the community. She feels this interconnectedness within and outside the community is a strength that can bring fresh resources. Haygood lives in a neighboring community and says, “While I am no longer there, I have an interest and investment there.” Besides her work on the FCS board, Haygood helped facilitate a partnership between IBM and South Atlanta’s Price Middle School, where she volunteers with EX.I.T.E. Technology Camp with students.  

“I get my drive to help and be involved with the community from my family,” Haygood says. Her family still lives in South Atlanta, and this community will always be home.   

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Transforming Christmas for Good

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by Bob Lupton

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I entered the immense foyer of a large, metropolitan megachurch. I was there to speak at a church sponsored mission conference. The senior pastor greeted me with a broad smile, expressing his excitement about my involvement in this important event in the life of the church. “We’re a mission church,” he said. Hundreds of members volunteer in the city, travel abroad on mission trips, and give generous financial support to ministries locally and around the globe. Many of his members had read Toxic Charity, he told me, which had created no small stir. But the church was ready to make significant changes. The missions committee had unanimously agreed that the time was right for “someone like Bob Lupton” to be invited to speak to the congregation.  

As the pastor escorted me through the expansive foyer, my attention was captured by hundreds of large plastic containers that lined the wall, stacked nearly to the ceiling. They appeared to be filled with toys. “That’s a lot of toys,” I commented as we walked past.

“Our goal was to fill one thousand containers!” The pastor smiled. “We made it!” He was obviously delighted by his congregation’s overwhelming response. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.

One of the stories I recounted in Toxic Charity was witnessing the humiliation of some of my neighbors as compassionate strangers delivered to their homes Christmas gifts for their children. It was a program I had named Adopt-a-Family. It was intended to bring joy to the children of our community, children who would not otherwise receive any presents. What I had failed to anticipate was the effect this benevolence would have on the parents of these children. Not until I was sitting in the living rooms of recipient families when the gift-bearing families arrived did I observe the humiliation of struggling parents. Their inability to provide for their own was exposed – in front of their own children. Mothers would endure this indignity, but it was more than a father’s self-esteem could bear. Dads slipped quietly out the back door. 

I related this story in Toxic Charity. And I explained how we converted Adopt-a-Family into Dignity for Dads – a Christmas store where parents in our community could purchase toys for their children at greatly reduced prices. I explained how thrilled parents were to find bargains and how much they preferred to purchase toys for their children rather than stand in the free toy lines with their proof of poverty and accept toys others had provided. Unemployed parents could also participate, working in the Christmas store to earn money so they, too, could purchase gifts for their family.  

After reading this story, how could the leadership of this church invite me to speak – just after a successful drive that stacked their vestibule to the ceiling with free toys to distribute to poor children in the city? Was I their hired gun brought in to convince the congregation that there was a better way to do their charity? Yes, I knew I was in trouble!  

“So what are you going to do with all these toys?” I probed.

“Sell them,” the pastor replied without hesitation. “We have partnered with an inner-city ministry who has a Christmas store in their community. They’ll sell these toys at bargain prices and use the proceeds to fund an employment training program for unemployed parents. Pride for Parents, they call it.”  

What an enormous relief! This church gets it. No need for an out-of-town prophet here. I can celebrate with them their successful Christmas toy campaign and affirm their enlightened paradigm of care for the poor of their city. Charity with dignity – what a welcome change!

And it is happening all across the land. Churches and businesses, non-profits and social service agencies are recognizing the need to abandon soft-hearted, dependency-producing, dignity-depleting methods of charity in favor of initiatives that actually empower the poor. They are recognizing that what a child really needs – even more than a toy for Christmas – is effective parents. This is very good news indeed for those who are striving to escape poverty’s entrapment.

Join in the movement, won’t you? Pride for Parents is one of FCS’s early empowerment successes that has impacted thousands of families here in Atlanta and is spreading to cities and towns throughout the country. Engage your church or business in a toy campaign. Take your family on a Christmas shopping trip that ends up at our Christmas store. Celebrate the season in the joy of knowing that your giving will have lasting impact well beyond the holiday season.  

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Creating Welcome

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We seek to offer hospitality and build community throughout our neighborhood. In the same way we might prepare our home to welcome a neighbor or friend, we have worked to create an inviting environment in our FCS office. We want to welcome everyone who walks through our door with dignity and joy.

We are so grateful to Buckhead Church’s BeRich giving campaign for coming alongside us and supporting FCS when we relocated to our focus neighborhood. Their generous gift allowed us to raise the funds we needed to renovate and outfit our building to create a flexible and professional learning space.

Recently, the finishing touches arrived as we welcomed new tables and chairs, whiteboards and a sound system. This space now better serves our community and visitors. All our FCS Training events and Open Houses are held here, as well as our South Atlanta Food Co-op and some South Atlanta Civic League events.

It is a gift to our work and our community to have this useful and comfortable working space. Thank you Buckhead Church and the BeRich Campaign!   

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