News and Links

First Light News

A Year-End Thank You from the Daughter of a Former Guest The following letter was sent to First Light and needs no explanation. To First Light: A Thankful Blessing Every year around this season we share what we are thankful for. I have told my family, friends, and those close to me, but I have not thanked all of you Angels at First Light for how truly blessed and thankful I am for you. First Light has wonderful workers, volunteers and the heart they have to help others. They help them succeed in life, teach them that they can reach their goals, and many more things. Here is a window in my world: My Mom was in and out- the little she was in broke my childhood heart- from drinking and drug binges, being broke and wanting a fix, to robbing my Tootsie Roll Piggy Bank and other things to seeing her attempt suicide or the aftermath of it and being arrested and put in jail. This was my childhood life- she almost missed my wedding, missed the birth of my first child (she was in rehab) and the birth of my second child (argument/overdose). That one lead to a long hospital visit that brought her to your overflow at First Light, which was three years ago today (December 21, 2005). That was her first day there… I remember because it was my birthday, which became the best gift ever. She spent Christmas on overflow then became a resident on the second floor. She became clean and sober and humble- nice things that were not the Mom I grew up with. She talks so highly of First Light and how you all helped turn her life around and helped her get her own place. She loves giving back to First Light any way she can. Because of all of you Angels at First Light I have my Mother- not Mom/Mommy- my Mother in my life as a Mother that is warm, caring, loving, giving, compassionate, helping hand, lending shoulder, awesome Mother/Grandmother in my life and my kid’s lives. Thank you so much for the best Birthday Present, Christmas Present and year-around present I could ever ask for. My prayers were answered by you sweet, kind, loving people at First Light that helped my Mother. My words can not say how thankful I am and how blessed I am for the work you do to help others and my Mother. Truly God Bless you all at First Light and thank you. It's Always Advent at First Light We are not used to waiting for much. Instant messaging, email, iPods, news flashes to our phones …we enjoy the privilege of having instant gratification for information, indeed, for most of our “wants.” Many of us have learned that we can have almost anything we want NOW. In contrast, the season of Advent in modern days should remind us of a sense of longing for those good things we wish and hope for but which have been beyond our reach. Have we lost the capacity for “awaiting?” Advent is that time that many of us have been taught should be filled with awe, with yearning….. to fill our emptiness, our needs, our darkness with Light that comes from the One who saves, who heals. Whether one celebrates Advent in the religious sense or not, it just makes plain good common sense that we should nurture our appreciation for the stillness, for the waiting….for deliverance from what oppresses and imprisons us. Taking time to focus on the difference between needs and wants…..recognizing what it is that will bring healing to our souls and psyches….one must spend time NOT being bombarded with the proliferation of stimuli to which we have become accustomed. Advent is meant to quiet us and redirect our hope – for forgiveness, compassion ….for redemption. Like Mary, we should become “pregnant” with anticipation for what good things are to come. It is ALWAYS Advent at First Light. Our guests spend their time with us in a determined period of awaiting many kinds of things: One more chance to get things right… Time to heal… Sobriety… A bed… Reconciliation with family… Safety and security… A Job… Custody of their children… Self respect……Joy……..a Home. First Light guests understand waiting…it is their way of life throughout the year. Why would Advent be any different for them? If different it is that many of them will NOT be with their families that they miss and will NOT be at home….whatever that means to them. As we all experience our own struggles with current economic developments affecting our financial security or our daily lifestyles, I hope we can have a greater appreciation for the simplicity of Advent in our lives. It is in the hollowness, the darkness and absence of hope where we most often recognize that which we need most….not what we want, but what we need. The ladies here at First Light know hopelessness more than I might ever imagine. It is for this reason that I respect them and try to stay open to what I may learn from them. For they know Advent much more than I….in the deepest of ways. And this makes their struggle sacred to me. Here is wishing to all of you…not what you want, but what you need. Your sisters at First Light await some of these same things….keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Many blessings on you and yours this Christmas and in the New Year. May our hopeful yearnings of the Advents in our lives be met with what we need the most. FIRST EVER MOVIE NIGHT AT FIRST LIGHT by Tiffany Chiang To get to know a city, you must first become acquainted with its people. As a new resident of Birmingham, I soon grew weary of “getting acquainted.” It was time to roll up my sleeves and become active in my new community. I discovered First Light in February. Instinctively, I wanted to do something new and different. After some brainstorming, I came up with the idea of organizing “LIGHTS OUT @ FIRST LIGHT,” First Light’s first-ever official movie night featuring Pixar’s animated film, “Ratatouille”. It took several months of organization and planning, but the big night finally happened on Friday, May 30. The movie was projected onto a projector-sized screen. I encouraged the ladies to come in their pajamas and to bring their pillows and blankets. There was so much excitement and anticipation in the air. We were truly having a slumber party! And, what’s a slumber party without food? Thanks to the generosity of Sunil Patel, general manager of Quiznos in Homewood, the night was fully catered with sandwiches, cookies, chips and bottles of water for all. Throughout the movie, the evening was full of laughter, snacking and enjoyment. In closing, the success of the event is a testament to the willingness of the Birmingham community to help others. I am thankful to Quiznos Subs, Keri Lane of Backyard Films and Joy O’Neal for contributing their food, logistics advice and movie projector, respectively. After this experience, I can say with confidence that volunteering is a satisfying and fulfilling way to make people’s acquaintance! March 14, 2008 The First Light Board does more than just work- they have fun too! The Board of Directors of First Light gathered in the home of Scott Ford and Chris Campanotta on Thursday, March 13, to "wrap up" any business concerning the Gala, which was held on February 9. The board members and their spouses/partners celebrated the success of the Gala with wine and cheese. Blair Sandford, the Gala Coordinator and Vice President of the Board, thanked all of the board members for their tireless work in preparing for the Gala. Blair’s husband, Jamie, was thanked for his outstanding contributions to the success of the event. Others present were David and Martha Elliott, Marion Walker, Michael and Marilyn Gross. Nancy Skinner and Betty Drennen were thanked for once again coordinating the decorations of tables and seating for 400 attendees the night of the Gala. Angel and Brian Garrett were there to celebrate as well. Bill and Weesa Matthews, Jeff and Jennifer Morrison joined in the festivities along with First Light’s executive team: Ruth Crosby and Deborah Everson. Shannon Horsley (Event Chair for First Light) capped off the evening by announcing the Gala exceeded all previous years in the amount raised for First Light! We can’t thank all of the board members, volunteers, contributing artists and companies, and attendees enough for helping to make the evening a success. March 2008 First Light's very own Social Worker gets her Social Work license- and gets married! Congratulations to Sarah Brooks Greer for recently passing the Alabama State Licensure Social Work Exam. She graduated from the University of Montevallo in December of 2006, joined our staff in January of 2007, and obtained her official license to practice Social Work in February of 2008! Sarah also got married to Ben Greer on March 15, 2008. We have all grown to love Sarah and hope that she celebrates many more milestones with us! February 18, 2008 The First Light Ladies SHINE in the first annual First Light Talent Show! In January, LaKeshia Dunson contacted Shannon Horsley, Volunteer Manager at First Light, with a unique new idea- why not let the women staying at the shelter show off their talents and have a little fun?! Dunson, an employee at the law firm, Starnes and Atchison, regularly helps serve dinner at First Light with other employees from the firm. After hearing several of the ladies sing, she talked with a friend of hers, JaQuita Upshaw, who gave her the idea of putting on a talent show. When Dunson began telling her friends and co-workers what she was planning, people started donating money and services to help her pull it off. "A burning desire to do something more for the ladies was birthed after spending so much time with them, getting to know them, and ministering to them. They were always an inspiration to me with their singing talents. They would sing to me every time I went to serve them and would always tell me how grateful they were to have me there. I wanted them to know and believe that they were of great value no matter where they were or what they had been through. Building their confidence and giving them hope was my main focus. I wanted the women to know that they were "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made", which was the theme of the talent show." Lakeshia didn't just show up the day of the event. She made several trips to First Light to meet with the ladies, discuss their talents, bring music for them to use during their performance…..this was a production, not just an event, and she was the producer! "I wanted to put on this program for them because I was once in their shoes. I was a single mom with four children and didn’t have any where to go. Unfortunately, I did not know about a place such as First Light shelter. God gave me peace in the midst of all that I went through, didn’t have, and wanted to be. He gave me the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding I needed to know that He had my situation all under control. No matter how it looked- I was somebody, and someone loved me. Just to see the faces of the ladies at the shelter the day of the show was God’s gift to me. The way they bonded together, showed each other love, and cried together. You don’t know how big something so small can be to a person. I was blessed to have so many people to support my vision to make these women feel loved. There are many companies and individuals who donated to this remarkable event." The first annual talent show was held on February 16th and several of the women staying at First Light participated- in song, in dance, in spirit. The afternoon went off without a hitch. The day room was decorated beautifully with balloons, table cloths, Valentine's sweetheart candy and rose petals; the ladies wore their matching "First Annual First Light Talent Show" t-shirts; the volunteers handed out tote bags full of surprise goodies; and the women sang and danced their hearts out! February 2008 The women at First Light see Romeo and Juliet in ballet! Thanks to the contacts and efforts of Jamie Grace Smith, First Light volunteer and Family Life Education student at Samford University, 11 of our guests attended Romeo and Juliet in ballet at the Wright Center. Jamie Grace first volunteered at First Light as part of a class project in 2007, but she didn’t forget about the women after her class was over! While interning at Alabama Ballet, Jamie Grace remembered the women at First Light and got them seats at the show. The women got all dressed up and had an absolutely wonderful time! For almost all of the ladies, this was the first time they had ever been to a ballet. Special thanks to Jamie Grace for giving them this opportunity to experience the arts.

Sign up for email updates

Volunteer Opportunities

First Light
2230 Fourth Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203
Phone: (205) 323-4277
Fax: (205) 323-8362