Cheerful balloons dotted the railings. Volunteers staffed tables in droves, ready to be helpful to each guest. Staff members were planted in their spaces, eager to envelope every visitor into the vision their space makes possible. Food trucks, Italian ice, the silent auction, and a fabulous band made the courtyard the place that drew us in. True, large-hearted celebration everywhere!
I’m speaking, of course, about the Winston-Salem Center for Education and the Arts’ celebration last night, marking five full years of full occupancy in the John 3:16 Building! For five years, what once was a dream to provide rent-free space to nonprofit organizations who offer “intellectual and spiritual growth through education and the arts for the betterment of the community” has become a dream realized, one life, one day, one moment at a time. The stories of transformation were everywhere last night, and time and time again we all heard thanksgiving rise and fill the air for these five years of individuals and families finding hope, finding each other, and finding their way through Authoring Action, Dress for Success, Leadership Winston-Salem, and the Street School.
Lynn Rhoades, Executive Director of Authoring Action, hit the nail on the head when reflecting on the many years of their work. “We were like wanderers,” she said — transient and floating from place to place, occupying nooks and crannies all over Winston-Salem with the kids they served. “But now,” she said, “now we have a home.” Their home is filled with the creative work of their hands, much like the walls in the Street School are filled with pictures of their graduates. Walls, of course, that make this house a home, plastered with paintings and emotions and hope.
Some of you remember those walls, you told me last night. You remember hitting the walls that stood there first with sledgehammers, helping to tear down what was so that we could build what would be! You remember the ways our church encircled this building with vision and vital work to turn it into the home it is today. You remember the feelings throughout your life of home, of rest, of a place to call your own. And for the people of Authoring Action, Dress for Success, Leadership Winston-Salem, and the Street School, those memories form the foundation to celebrate the home they have today!
With deep and hearty congratulations for the tireless work of so many of you who have made this dream come to life, a dream that a place to call home can change lives, I say thanks be to God!
Together in the work of Love,