Help and hope

"Help and hope" Continued...

Issue: "Blind exiled brave," Aug. 10, 2013

Lynn later noted that Shepherd patients are uninsured and have similar problems as patients at his own practice—high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity. But he enjoys volunteering and not having to worry about processing payments and insurance codes. “I think as physicians we get as much out of them as they get out of us. It puts the fun back in medicine.”

The patient, Elsa Dominguez, later said she’s been coming to the clinic for six months and has attended a women’s program at Shepherd. Meeting with a Shepherd counselor, she said, has helped her fight a long-term depression resulting in part from childhood molestation by a male schoolteacher. She appreciates getting not just a doctor but “the Word of God” at Shepherd.

Height says he always thought he was called to minister to the city but realizes the city has ministered to him: “So many of the stories are of people who teach me every day how to be Christlike.”

Follow this year’s Hope Award for Effective Compassion competition and vote for the ministry you believe deserves the 2013 award .

Money Box

• 2011 income: $3.9 million 

• 2011 expenses: $4.1 million

• Salary of executive director Jay Height: $58,249

• Employees: 44 full-time, 13 part-time

• Volunteers: About 430 individuals from churches, high schools, and colleges logged hours in the past year, not including work groups

• Website: shepherdcommunity.org

‘You can do it’

Adkins with his newborn, Mikaiah
Handout photo
Adkins with his newborn, Mikaiah

Curtis Adkins, Shepherd’s 31-year-old director of after-school and summer programs, once resembled the city kids he helps today. As an elementary student, Adkins’ financially unstable family moved three or four times a year, allowing him to pick up only bits and pieces of academic concepts from schools he briefly attended. Teachers labeled him learning disabled: Adkins recalls, “Everybody was telling me I wasn’t going to succeed, so I eventually turned into the kid that didn’t really care whether he succeeded or not.”

At 12 years old, Adkins’ stepfather kicked him out of the house after longstanding friction ignited during a dispute between Adkins and his sister. He spent the next six months sleeping at friends’ houses, at his grandmother’s, or on park benches. He stayed in school to get the free meals. Finally, a friend’s parents agreed to house Adkins if he agreed to stay in school and attend Shepherd’s after-school youth programs. He agreed, but he butted heads with teachers and administrators, who twice kicked him out of public high schools.

At Shepherd, though, people began tutoring him and giving him homework help, and eventually helped him enroll at a local Christian school, where classroom sizes were smaller than at his public school. The extra attention he received helped him catch up academically from the years he’d fallen behind. Shepherd and the Christian school gave Adkins janitorial jobs so he could pay his tuition, and the long hours motivated him to get his money’s worth from the classes. Looking back, he realizes that having to work to reach his goals was a valuable life lesson.

Though he felt insecure about his academic abilities, Adkins finished high school and went on to play as a soccer goalkeeper at an Ohio university, where he graduated cum laude. Now Adkins is married, has two young children, wears a goatee and a loop earring, and works at Shepherd offering students the encouragement he once needed: “I came back to serve after being here because of the relationships that I built with people, and how people encouraged me and told me I could do it, even when I didn’t believe in myself.” —D.J.D.

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is managing editor of WORLD Magazine and lives in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.


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