(From left) are Patti Brown and Verena Sample.
During the Lamb Center’s banquet last week, the center’s assistant director, Patti Brown, said the guests inspire her every day. Four of them then shared their stories with those attending the event.
- Ruby Ledbetter received her college degree in social work in 1985, married and became the mother of eight children – one with a severe disability. But her husband died in 2000 and, by 2006, she was homeless. Then, after working 23 years as a social worker for Washington, D.C. Public Schools, she lost her job in 2010.
“I came to the Lamb Center for prayer meetings, Bible study and meals,” she said. “I now work with Arlington Public Schools and help in my community. I’m a valuable member of society, and I’m here today because of your love and support.”
- Patti Staples said no one makes a conscious decision to become homeless. “It’s through a series of unexpected events and bad decisions we make,” she explained. She and her husband hadn’t worked in several years and they had a daughter to care for. After they were evicted, she said, “A friend took us, embarrassed and hopeless, to the Lamb Center.”
“We were treated as guests, with love and respect, and welcomed with open arms,” said Staples. “So we kept coming back. We were able to rent a basement apartment and went to the Lamb Center once a week. One day, I was there when a man from the 29 Diner came in looking to hire someone, and he hired me – and I’m still there, a year later.”
- Stephan Bolling had been incarcerated, and a condition of his parole was to go to the Lamb Center every day. “It grew on me,” he said. “If you ever want to see some real-life angels, go to the Lamb Center. Later, after my girlfriend died in my arms, I returned there. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be.”
- Verena Sample was a former guest who now works at Macy’s and is a Lamb Center volunteer. “I was once on the streets and in a drug environment,” she said. “But I learned to set goals. And now I talk to young people at the Lamb Center, sharing my story, so hopefully, they won’t go the same way I did.” Addressing the crowd, she said, “Thank you, because you all are the shepherd and I’m the sheep that you lifted up and pieced back together.”
Then, giving a prayer, Brown said, “Bless our guests that they’ll continue to soar on wings of eagles.”