I Am Protective



Love at First Light

The circumstances that bring women to shelters like First Light have changed.  Director of volunteer services Deborah Everson calls it a stew of factors, and the recipe looks something like this: “1 cup mental illness, 3 dashes of joblessness, 2 scoops of addiction to medication to deal with the mental illness.” She shares this recipe for homelessness to church groups, organizations and businesses, hoping to offer insight into an issue that is perceived by most as “someone else’s problem.” And it is “until that stew happens in their families,” she adds. And when it does, First Light is there to help. In the 1980s when First Light was just a volunteer-operated emergency night shelter for women and children located in the basement of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, it was easy to describe the face of homelessness. “They were bag ladies. Single women. Alcoholics or prostitutes,” Everson says.…

Giving People with Special Needs The Opportunity to Ride

Cathy Lindberg holds her 24-year-old daughter’s riding helmet between them and traces the matte black brim with her forefinger. “What makes this a princess helmet, Molly? Can you show us?” Her daughter raises her finger to the two gold horse stickers catching light from the top of the helmet. A smile stretches across her face. “That’s right,” Cathy says. “Because they’re magic.” When Molly’s riding helmet is strapped on and she mounts her black-and-white horse, Oreo, she is a princess. She takes the reins of her horse, flanked on each side by a volunteer side walker to ensure she stays secure in the saddle. A leader guides the horse through a series of maneuvers – stops, turns, trots. The team moves in sequence with other riders and walkers, preparing for one of the end-of-session horse shows. Molly is developmentally delayed, which qualifies her to participate in the therapeutic riding sessions…