I grew up a little off the grid in El Paso, Texas. My father always believed my sisters and I could change the world. I don’t know that I really believed him, but his message imprinted on me. I became a Longhorn (University of Texas at Austin) graduating with a B.S. in Advertising and took my first job out of college in Charlotte, N.C. where I have lived most of the last thirty years. Being an art director for ad agencies meant long hours so I started my own graphic design business in order to be home for carpools and naptime for my four daughters. While I loved helping clients and nonprofits communicate their mission, I kept feeling I was missing my own.
I was forty-four with a great family, a business, but no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Denver Moore, a formerly homeless man turned best—selling author of Same Kind of Different As Me, changed all that in 2007. On a tour of the Urban Ministry Center in Charlotte where I volunteered, Denver very memorably pointed out to me that while I was helping the homeless by serving soup, the one thing a homeless person actually really needs is a home. Denver put me on the spot and wanted to know if I would do something about that. In a complete moment of guilt and insanity, I promised him I would.
Two months later, I closed my design business to join the staff of the Urban Ministry Center as the first director of Homeless to Homes, developing Charlotte’s only Housing First program for the chronically homeless. That startup program turned into a $10,000,000 capital campaign to build an apartment complex named, in part, for the man who inspired it, Moore Place. With the experience of building housing for people experiencing homelessness, I worked from 2013 until 2016 on another Charlotte project to build the first nonprofit mental health treatment center: HopeWay. It has now opened and serving clients in both residential and day treatment programs on an amazing 12-acre campus. Learn more here (HopeWay).
My path over the last ten years with those two projects involved so much coincidence, serendipity, and God-incidence that I finally wrote it all down in The Hundred Story Home: a memoir of finding faith in ourselves and something bigger. In my book and on this website, I want to encourage you if you are restless for purpose to have courage to listen to what’s calling you—whatever it is, big or small. And especially, no matter how crazy it feels! I think each of us has something we are meant to do and as my dad always told me: You can do anything, really anything.
Today, I live in Charlotte with my husband, Charlie, who listens patiently to all my crazy ideas. My four amazing daughters, Lauren, Kailey, Emma, and Maddie, encourage me to keep busy trying to change the world so I don’t worry about changing them. And my black lab, Dexter, keeps me sane, taking walks every day and showing me the truest example of lovin’ life.
CRAZY NICE AWARDS AND PRESS
- 2017 Christopher Award for Adult Books
- 2016 To Find Her Calling She Just had to Listen, Taylor Batten, The Charlotte Observer
- 2009 Charlotte Magazine Genius Issue Award
- 2011 Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Local Hero Award
- 2012 NC Housing Sister Barbara Sullivan Volunteer of the Year Award
CURRENT PROJECTS AND CAUSES I LOVE ALWAYS
- HopeWay (Advisory Board of Directors)
- The Crossnore School
- Urban Ministry Center and Moore Place (Board of Directors)
- Woman’s Impact Fund