An Attitude of Gratitude
This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing former volunteer turned part-time Case Manager, Mr. Danny Tarver. Danny has a background in Psychology, which he studied at the University of Georgia, as well as a variety of personal experiences that make him a great asset to our team at Good News at Noon.
Danny’s story begins in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent most of his childhood. He enjoyed the excitement of city life and decided as a young man to live in as many great cities across the country as he could. This phase of his life could best be described by Johnny Cash’s hit song “I’ve Been Everywhere”. As a young adult, he achieved his goal and lived in many states across the country. Some of his most memorable experiences included visits to Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado and Idaho. Danny made his way back to Georgia in order to care for his mother and stepfather. Sadly, his stepfather has since passed away, but he continues to care for his mother who he fondly mentions as the “source of [his] servant's heart”. Danny has now lived in Gainesville for the last six years. He noted that this is the longest he has stayed in one place in his entire adult life since studying at UGA in Athens. Although he enjoyed his traveling days, the nomadic life led him down a path of adversity and self-discovery that made him the man he is today.
As our conversation evolved, we talked briefly about his own battles with homelessness and addiction. Danny did not want the focus to be on his own struggles, but he did take time to express gratitude for the help and guidance he received over the years that helped him overcome difficulty in his own life. Especially that of his father whom he gave credit to being a great inspiration and one of his strongest supporters through this chapter of his life. He went on to say “my dad was relentless in his resolve to help me overcome many of the challenges and obstacles in my life and if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t still be alive! He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.” In a way, he hopes to “pay that help forward” to our community, through his work at Good News at Noon.
From there, our chat drifted back to the topic of his background in psychology. Danny received a degree in psychology from the University of Georgia. For 14 years, he has used his knowledge and experience working with the Special Needs community. While he still works with those who have special needs, he has recently decided to shift his focus to assist those struggling with addiction and homelessness.
He said, “When I came to Good News at Noon, I had a preconceived idea of what the typical day would look like and what I thought they (our neighbors) would need. God took that idea, turned it around and flipped it upside down.” He continued, “when you’re wanting to help someone, their physical needs have to
be met, but that's just the beginning.” We aim to help as many of our neighbors as possible with meeting their basic needs like food, water, showers and clothing. However, our goal for residents (those staying in our shelter full time) at Good News at Noon, is to inspire meaningful life change. In order to achieve this goal, it takes more than meeting basic needs. It takes a loving and caring staff, and most importantly, it takes a commitment.
It takes a commitment from our residents to attend church and small groups while holding down a job. It takes a commitment from our staff to counsel, confer with and care for our residents. It takes a commitment from our community to be present with our neighbors and residents alike.
The more meaningful connections we can forge with our neighbors, the greater chance they have at overcoming adversity. In closing, Danny took time to thank God and reflect on his new and exciting journey with Good News at Noon. He believes that God has led him here with a purpose and in his own words that “God is pleased with this place”, and we are very pleased to have him. If you find yourself nearby or in the building, be sure to stop by the office and introduce yourself to Danny!
- Nick Price, Public Relations Coordinator
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thess. 5:18) I had heard this during my stint in education, but apparently psychologists have known it for years - Out of all 24 character strengths, gratitude is the single best predictor of individual well-being. It is correlated with increased energy, empathy, happiness and optimism. And, the great thing about gratitude is that it can be intentionally cultivated. Numerous studies have concluded that gratitude is like a muscle. The more you practice it, the stronger it gets – and the more you’re able to reap its benefits.
It shouldn’t make any difference for Jesus-followers, but in the rare instances when science agrees with the truth of scripture it would seem the whole world should be in agreement. That doesn’t mean we will always FEEL grateful. We do feel sad at times & pretending that sadness is the direct result of a lack of gratitude is wrong (“What do YOU have to feel sad about!?”). But in the end, scripture does teach that thankfulness or gratitude can bring freedom, healing, peace, joy and a host of other wonderful things! (Those younger than 50 may need to watch Pollyanna for clarification)
- Ken Gossage, Executive Director
"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
Stories From the Shelter: Hide & Seek
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?...You’d find me in a minute— you’re already there waiting! (Psalms 139:7-8)
Remember how exhilarating it was when someone was found while playing hide and seek as a child? At what point did hiding evolve from a harmless children’s game to a harmful way of life? How is it that we continue to play only half the game? We hide from ourselves, we hide ourselves from each other, and we attempt to hide from God. We hide at church and at work. We hide in a crowd
and we hide when we’re alone. Our neighbors at GN@N often hide from the police, or a family member or someone to whom they owe money. How exhausting it is to be in hiding.
Why are we hiding? Are we afraid? Isaiah 41:10 reminds us that there is no need to fear because God is our God. He’ll give us strength, help us, hold us steady and keep a firm grip on us.
From whom are we hiding? Are we afraid of being found? Psalm 139 teaches also there is nowhere God cannot find us: He finds us in the sky and underground; He finds us in the dark and under bushes and behind buildings.
Remember the woman who searched for the lost coin and the sheep who wanders? What are we hiding? His Word tells us that He made us inside and out. I am reminded of an older song with the words, “the One who knows me best loves me most.” Do we believe that? These are truths we want to spread to our community: you do not need to hide any longer, you no longer need to live in fear, and you are loved immensely. Let’s all play the other half of the game. Let’s seek Jesus while He may be found..., for He will freely pardon (Isaiah 55: 6,7).
- Denise Johnson, Program Coordinator