Leaving the Door Open for God’s Calling
July 28, 2023
You would never know that Twanda Hall has no professional background in non-profit work before Raleigh Rescue Mission. She comes from corporate America but now is called to serve the men and women in the New Life Plan in the role of Client Learning and Development Program Manager.
Twanda’s departure from Progress Energy in 2015 opened her up to other possibilities.
“At that point I found myself unemployed, I was pushing that 50-ish age in my life, and I was faced with, ‘OK, I still need to work. What am I going to do for the rest of my working career?’”, she recalled. “I wanted the rest of my career to be important. I searched. I prayed. I told God I wanted to work in a Christian organization and make a difference in people’s lives.”
During that time, Twanda volunteered at Raleigh Rescue Mission and several other non-profit organizations. She loved working at the front desk at the Mission, so when a part-time position became available in 2016, she took it. Since then, she has worn many hats: full-time at the front desk, Assistant to the Director and then Director of the Volunteer Ministry, Ministry Support Assistant, and a career development class facilitator.
Now, Twanda oversees all vocational training and career development classes, which are required for all clients during the first three phases of the New Life Plan and prepare clients for employment.
In addition to handling vocational training assignments, class schedules, and curriculums, Twanda and her teammate Bob Peterlin rotate teaching Jobs for Life to clients in Phase 3. Seeing the growth that takes place in the classroom is the best part of the job, she said.
“Each time a client comes in, we take a picture of them,” she shared. “You can see in their face that they have a lot of concern. As they go through the program and allow it to work, and allow themselves to release that anger, frustration, bitterness, and the roadblocks that we talk about in class that can hold you back – once they finally get it and erase that survival attitude, you can see the change. You can see it in their eyes, and you can see it in the way they talk and interact with other clients.”
Twanda is one of the first people clients meet when they enroll in the New Life Plan, as they’re assigned a vocational training within the first two days of arrival. Between greeting the clients at breakfast, teaching classes, and chatting with those who stop by her office, Twanda sees each person every day and builds relationships over the three-plus months they live at the Mission.
“I have time for that. That’s what I’m here for,” she said. “Sometimes they just want to talk about something going on or about how they feel, which is why I have a little tissue box right there,” pointing to the corner of her desk. “I always tell people, ‘You know where I’m at, and my door’s always open.’ And they use that.”
Twanda has a protective, maternal love for her students, and she misses them when they move out. She feels blessed to be a part of their journey as they complete program milestones, maintain sobriety, repair family relationships, and even give birth during their stay at the Mission.
“The most rewarding thing is – besides them getting the job, car, house, and all the material things – their relationship with Christ, especially those who have not had a relationship with Christ,” she said.
Twanda also witnesses the challenges of the New Life Plan and experiences the sadness when people exit the program. “We see those who don’t take advantage of the opportunities they have here,” she said. “They have everything here – a safe place to stay, people who care about them, but for whatever reason, they decide that it’s not for them. And sometimes it’s not, but sometimes I think they leave just a little too soon.
But she remembers that God gave us many chances and never says, “I told you so.”
Twanda’s role has opened her eyes to the humanity behind homelessness. “I didn’t know anything about ACEs and the trauma – not that I was judgemental, but I have a deeper understanding and a deeper respect as to the challenges people have,” she said. “When I see people, I think, ‘What happened? What occurred in their life that led them to this path?’ Because we just don’t know. Any given day, something could take us down somewhere and we could be on the other side of that road, as well.”
On the hard days, Twanda is confident in the Lord, and finds support through the Raleigh Rescue Mission team, as well as her husband of 32 years, children, and grandchildren.
“If our clients had something like that, they would be in a better position, which is why we talk about having a good circle outside of Raleigh Rescue Mission,” she said.
Twanda is grateful for the donors because she knows the Mission is an important beacon of light for people who don’t know what to do next and need a place to go. “We believe that the work we do here is the work of God, and because the Mission has been around for so long, we know that God is pleased,” she said.