I stood there in the bathroom of my apartment staring into the mirror and began to cry. What now? I was 18 years old and had just got home from my high school graduation. I wasn’t getting ready to leave for some awesome vacation. There was no big graduation party planned for me. There were no plans at all in fact- not even for college. What was I doing? Feeling completely overwhelmed and lost, my sobbing grew more intense expressing a deep inner pain I knew all too well. Crying out to heaven I pleaded, “Jesus, save me!”
Though nothing significant happened that evening or even the next day, something had changed. My heartfelt prayer was answered, setting me on the predestined path God had always planned for me. My childhood was not an easy one. Though all of my physical needs were met, emotionally I suffered. I lost my dad in a hit and run accident at the age of 4 and my mother passed away of cancer at age 11. I was very fortunate to have been adopted by my grandparents, although I didn’t appreciate them very much at the time. I ran with the wrong crowd in high school and made terrible choices that led to the discouraged and disillusioned mess that stood before the mirror that graduation night. A few months later, I fell in love with the man that would eventually become my son’s father. On November 7th, 2000, I gave birth to my one and only blessing from above, Brendon Lee. My grandfather passed away later that year leaving my grandmother and I behind to depend on each other.
Motherhood suited me well. Life was no longer about me. It was about providing and caring for my son and failure was not an option. This sentiment was put to the test when Brendon was 15 months old. His father left us in a less than desirable living situation to run off with another woman. Although I was heartbroken at the time, looking back it was a blessing. Our relationship was far from healthy and not one that would’ve set a good example for our son.
I landed on two feet and within a year, purchased a modular home for Brendon and I. It was modest but it was ours. I spent the next decade working two jobs and eventually going back to school. In 2008 I graduated from Harford Community College with an AA in Interior Design. I had also began working at a high-end residential design studio in Havre de Grace. It was my first professional job. I was accepted into Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia and a year later attended my first semester as an Interior Architecture major.
All was falling into place for our little family- or so it seemed. The financial reality of attending a private art school hit after that first semester. That burden coupled with a loss of passion for the work I was doing drove me to my knees one afternoon in the design studio. Lost and disheartened once again I found myself crying out, “Jesus, save me!”
I had not stepped into a church since I was 18 years old. The whisper of the Holy Spirit on my heart that afternoon in the design studio began to transform me from the inside out. I started attending the Catholic church I grew up in but did not feel inspired. Over the course of the next year and a half I attended several other denominational gatherings eventually landing in Mountain Christian Church. I knew from the first day I had found my spiritual home.
As I sought God’s heart, things began to change professionally for me as well. I awoke from a dream one night with a conviction to work with children. I fully abandoned my design career and re-enrolled at HCC as a psychology major. In 2012, I transferred to Towson University and in 2014, I began working as a Residential Counselor at Arrow Child and Family Ministries. I loved working with the teenage girls in the transitional living program and have kept in touch with several of them until this day. God it seemed, had other plans for me though.
One evening, while helping a friend organize his closets, I came across some sheets he no longer wanted and I thought, “Arrow could use these sheets.” In that moment it was like the world just stopped. My heart lit up as I realized that, “Arrow could use these sheets-and I could help others get organized and pass along their unwanted things to local programs in need!”
It felt as though God had announced a new vision for my life. My passion was on fire! I started pursuing the idea right away but had to quickly put my plans on hold to finish my last semester at Towson. I graduated in December of 2014 with my BA in Family and Human Services. After the holidays, I began working on my dreams again but as I researched I encountered some difficulty. The logistics of the business brought me to question whether it was going to be a for-profit business with a social mission or a nonprofit organization that offered professional services? Discouraged but determined to be found in faith, I followed my conviction that my personal mission was to serve others above all else.
After furnishing the home of a transitional foster youth I mentored through donations, it became clear where my heart was. I began to envision what a nonprofit that served others through furniture and home goods would look like. Those divinely inspired days of daydreaming and meeting with local program and government leaders led me to create Found in Faith Ministries, an organization that seeks to furnish the homes of individuals and families transitioning from homelessness. Our current focus is to continue to build and grow our Fresh Start Furniture Program. Our future plans include financial literacy coaching and job-skill training opportunities for our clients to supplement their incomes through creative expression and entrepreneurship. We will soon be relocating to a beautiful 5,000 sqft showroom in Joppa, Maryland to better meet the increasing needs of our clients.
Looking back, it is easy to see how God has always been in my life, even though I did not always recognize him. He saved me through the gift of my son Brendon and again through a gentle whisper that reassured me I was not alone. Today, His Holy Spirit calls me to shine a light of hope and love to all those still walking in darkness. I have been blessed with the opportunity to do that through this ministry and my career as a community resource consultant and lifestyle coach.
I know what it’s like to walk through poverty and I know what it’s like to feel alone. I also know the transformative power of a loving God’s merciful grace.
If you are in need of help for ANY reason, furniture or otherwise, our ministry is here to serve you. We will do our best to connect you to the support and resources you need to not only get through another day, but start living a life you love! To connect with my directly, please call 443-519-2464, option 8. I thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. May God bless your days and nights and all your dreams to come. My best, Alicia
Alicia is a certified life-coach, group facilitator and community resource consultant. As CEO of Social Progress Solutions, she works with individuals and communities to leverage their greatest potential by discovering what’s within, developing what’s without, and dreaming of what can be. Alicia is also Founder & Executive Director of Found in Faith Ministries, a Harford County-based nonprofit that provides furniture and home goods at no cost to families in need. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Services from Towson University, an Associate’s degree from Harford Community College, and is a proud alumnus of the 2018 Harford Leadership Academy and the Towson Professional Leadership Program for Women.
Over the past 15 years, Alicia has worked in environments focused on the needs of others. Her relatable background coupled with proficient organizational skills and a clear vision for the future have helped a wide variety of her clients build momentum and achieve their goals. Not afraid to follow her heart, Alicia delights in the process of developing ideas from concept to reality and faithfully assists her clients in doing the same.
In her free time, Alicia loves to read nonfiction books and workout, especially outdoors. She adores her friends and family and enjoys spending quality time with them often. Some of her favorite times are spent grabbing a bite to eat with her son Brendon or taking a hike with her pups, Grace and Lucy.