Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reconnecting With An Old Friend and Making New Ones

I recently visited the Shallowford Terrace location of Good Shepherd Services, where I reconnected with Sister Christine Truong My Hanh. Sister Christine is the executive director of Good Shepherd Services, a community based charity she founded in 1993.

While many of the people they serve are from the Vietnamese community, their help to the poor and underserved extends far beyond nationality, color, or religious affiliation. Shallowford Terrace is the original office location for Good Shepherd Services, which serves DeKalb County; however, today they also have locations in Clayton and Gwinnett counties. Good Shepherd offers a number of programs for adults, the elderly and youth. The programs include services like citizenship preparation classes, domestic violence and anger management, counseling and education, social support and an after-school tutoring program. 

I stopped by to photograph the summer program for youth, which like Good Shepherd Services, started in 1993 out of the Woodgate Apartments on Chamblee Dunwoody Road. “I value the importance of the program because it speaks to the mission of Good Shepherd Services and my order, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd,” said Sister Christine.

The first time I met Sister Christine was in 1999 when The Georgia Bulletin did a feature story on Good Shepherd Services. Some 13 years later, she continues to tirelessly work to serve the abused, the needy and children at risk.

During my most recent visit I made some new friends, including this year’s participants in the summer program for youth. There were 18 young people in the program, ranging in age 6 to 15, and they were affable, eager to learn and having lots of fun. 

The summer program provides a nurturing environment for the kids, where they read, write, perform math exercises, work on art and craft projects, take field trips and socialize.

I was there on the last day of this summer’s program. The kids were very appreciative of Sister Christine and their summer program instructors. During a party on the last day of the program, they presented flowers to Sister Christine and Kim Matthews, one of the instructors for the middle school children. They also presented handcrafted thank you notes to Sister Christine with heartfelt expressions of love and warmth for her and her ministry on their behalf.

The August 2 issue of The Georgia Bulletin will include a photo spread of my visit to the Good Shepherd summer youth program.  

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

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