‘Created to do life together’: Shepherd staff member shares special bond with one family of neighbors

April 17, 2024

The Greek word “paraclete” is used in the Bible as a name for both the Holy Spirit and Jesus.  One meaning of the word is “helper,” and in that sense, Shepherd Community Center Director of Development Kolton Williford serves as a paraclete to a family on the near Eastside of Indianapolis.

Kolton shares his experiences with the family here:

“I have known this family for nine years. I love their family, and my heart breaks for what they have experienced. I pause sometimes to think, ‘Where would this family be without a Shepherd Community Center?’

As a parent of daughters, I now pray more often than I used to. This family consists of a mother, five daughters, and an abusive and absent father. It’s a story that is all too familiar in the neighborhood we serve and in many surrounding ones.

Fathers not being present in the lives of their family continues to break our society and strengthen cycles of poverty. I am thankful that Shepherd works to combat that.

When I speak with the mom or visit the family’s home, she often greets me with an exhausted smile, but she is always welcoming. She works nights at a good job in the hospitality industry.

The family has been connected to Shepherd for over 17 years. I met the eldest daughter when she was 8 years old as I served in a summer intern role nine years ago. I continued to grow in my connection with the family when I introduced a Shepherd donor and volunteer to her through a tutoring program. The two instantly connected, and their relationship grew strong.

The donor has not only stayed in contact with the eldest daughter but has connected with the other four girls as well as the mother. 

On Dec. 23, 2022, a Shepherd colleague who pastors the family and I sat at their dinner table for several hours after they all opened Christmas presents that were provided by another generous donor. I saw hope and joy in the eyes of the mother and the five girls. As we told stories and discussed the daughters’ goals and dreams, I was reminded that sometimes the most powerful thing we can do for our neighbors is simply to be with them. We are created to do life together.

This again raises the question: ‘Where would this family – and many others – be without Shepherd?’ Shepherd is a special place, but what makes it so special are the kids, families, and individuals we serve. 

My purpose is to authentically love others and to care for the vulnerable. What’s yours? How do you get to live that out?”

You May Also Like…