Ann Cochran has been a long-time supporter of Agape Development. She is on our Board of Directors, heads the Real Estate Committee, and is an Adult Ally. I asked her to write about how she was impacted by being an Ally.

When I first heard that Agape Development was starting a Getting Ahead class for adult neighbors, I was thrilled.  I knew about the program, which lets people discover on their own the causes of poverty, the things that keep them trapped, and the many types of resources they need to lead stable, independent lives.  I was doubly thrilled when I heard about Allies, a follow-up program that pairs graduates of Getting Ahead with people like me, fostering deep relationships so we can talk frankly about goals and accountability.

But I have to admit I went to my first Allies meeting with a bit of a social-worker mentality . . .I was going to help them. How little did I realize then the many blessings that were getting ready to head my way!

After weeks of cheesy ice-breaker games that really worked, our weekly time together became true Christian fellowship. After a fun scavenger hunt in the Third Ward, we had all bonded. We were then paired off, each graduate with his/her own ally. That’s when Ava became a very important person in my life.

From any demographic measure, Ava and I are poles apart: race, age, economic bracket, you name it. But she and I immediately recognized how much alike we are. We laugh at the same things, care about the same things, even like to eat many of the same foods. We’ve worked hard on some of her financial goals, and I had a ball helping her plan her beautiful wedding at Agape Development’s community garden. When my son had surgery, Ava was the first friend to text me to check up on him. She helped me rescue a dog a while ago, and tomorrow I’m taking a dog to her family! I treasure our time together, especially our lunches – the best of which was in Ava’s backyard on a glorious fall day.

I asked Ava what she thought about Allies, and here’s her response:

“Allies was one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life. It taught me the value of friendship from all types of ages and backgrounds. Allies brought some beautiful people into my life and I will forever cherish them.“

As Kirk Craig wrote not long ago: “If you have never developed an honest and close relationship with someone of another race or in a completely different socio-economic group from your own, I encourage you to seek out that experience. We will live forever in the kingdom of heaven with every tribe, tongue and nation. The richness of that experience can be tasted now in Christian fellowship.”


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