Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Brenda Lovelady Spahn, founder and executive director of the Lovelady Center, to Dreams Coming True! Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway, CONNIE TILLMAN! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption!
Tell us a little about yourself, Brenda:
I am the founder and executive director of the Lovelady Center, the largest and most successful nonprofit transitional center for women in the country. It serves 450 women and children every day, providing substance abuse counseling, drug rehabilitation, meals, childcare, career counseling, and job opportunities to women working to establish successful lives outside of prison walls. Learn more at the LoveladyCenter.org.
When did this creative dream begin?
A few years ago, the Lord called me to write this story, Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption. Along with Irene Zutell, this book has become a reality. I wrote what felt like a thousand pages of content and Random House and Irene condensed it all to this little bitty book!
How did this project/idea get started?
Miss Brenda and the Loveladies actually tells the story of the beginnings of the ministry, The Lovelady Center, when the Lord called me to minister to women in prison.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
This is a very unique situation because I actually ran from the Lord 40 years like the Israelites did, but when I finally listened to what the Lord wanted to do, I found myself bringing hardened female prisoners into my home, straight out of one of the worst prisons in America, Julia Tutwiler Prison.
What are the goals and intentions of this project?
To share the story of The Lovelady Center and the brave women who changed their lives by the Grace of God.
How does your project create community?
It creates awareness about The Lovelady Center which houses, rehabilitates, trains, educates, and introduces to the love of Christ over 450 women and children daily.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
You know, I thought I had really messed up when those first women got off the van in my driveway and I realized they were pretty scary. But responsibility to the call – or responsibility to the real outcome of your project (in my case, women learning how to live a normal life) – must be met with all your might.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your project. Where do the ideas come from? How many are involved in the process? Does each contributer have a specific role?
We began with a “staff” of myself and my daughter, Melinda, when starting our Whole-Way House, as told in Miss Brenda and the Loveladies, and now we have a staff of about 100 who all have specific roles in keeping this facility running. We have a counseling staff, client representatives (who are like case workers), administration staff including graphics artists and fundraising teams, outreach department, job placement department, kitchen/cafeteria staff. We are like a small city and everyone does their part.
Ideas to combat problems and/or raise funds, I believe, come from the Lord. Our staff are very faithful to the ministry and to Him.
I have learned that within every single woman – even the most terrifyingly brutal felons – dwelled an undeniable spark of the divine.
Have there been any unexpected surprises?
Have there ever!! They are told in the book, Miss Brenda and the Loveladies.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting your project?
The biggest misconceptions people have about helping female felons, junkies, parolees is that they should be left where they are, that they deserve to be left in their mess.