Rossville, Georgia native Lauren Alaina made her way back to her hometown area this past week to give back in her free time in between her Eighteen Cities Inch-By-Inch tour. While Lauren might be just like your typical 17-year old teenager, she also has a huge heart with a big desire to help others. On Thursday of last week, Lauren made her way over to the City of Refuge in Dalton, GA to spend some time with the children and their families in the refuge community.
“I love kids, I was going to be a special needs teacher before I was a singer,” Lauren explained before going in to meet the children at the City of Refuge. “Anything I can do around my area to help out, I’m always excited to be a part of that. I have this thing where like if I see a homeless person out on the road, I’ve never passed a homeless person and not given them money. My friends are always like ‘Lauren, don’t look!’ because they know I give them anything in my wallet. Or, if all I have is my credit card, I go buy them food. I’ve always had a special heart for them.” At the age of 9, Lauren met a homeless man named Kevin that she became friends with, and she attributes her feelings towards homeless men and women to this. “You never know what the circumstances are for the person that’s on the side of the street. People are quick to judge them and think that they just don’t want to work, but that’s not always the case. So, I have a big heart for people who, you know, aren’t as fortunate as I am.”
The City of Refuge has been serving the community in Dalton, GA for over 18 years and provides transitional housing, hot meals, a food bank, a free clothing closet with a voucher system, and educational classes. They also have a free medical clinic to provide treatment for anyone in the community without insurance and a shower ministry, where they provide a towel, a fresh change of clothes, and hygienic supplies to the men and women on the streets four days a week. They also provide transportation to the families without vehicles and take them to a local beach each year for a mini-vacation. For holidays, they do special events for the families to help them have time to step away from their struggles. The Ministry survives by donations through food drives, clothing donations, financial donations and community support. They currently serve 5,500 per month.
While at the City of Refuge, Lauren spent time mingling with the kids by taking pictures, signing autographs, and singing with them. The kids all gathered as a group and Lauren joined them, as they all pointed their fingers up to represent a candle, and sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “Jesus Loves Me.”
“We have been singing her praises ever since she’s been here, she was phenomenal,” said Pamela Cudd, director of the City of Refuge. “This community has just really lifted her name on a high pedestal after she came, she was great.”
Lauren has teamed up with local charities in each city of her “Eighteen-City Tour Inch-By-Inch” shows. For her show in Dalton, GA on Friday, October 5th, Lauren has chosen the City of Refuge and Family Promise of Dalton to benefit from this show. All proceeds above the cost of the show will be given to them. You can get your ticket for the show by going to www.daltontradecenter.com.
The only request the City of Refuge had for Lauren was to interact with the kids, and she surpassed their expectations. “She came in and she made that more than what we could have expected because she genuinely interacted and cared about these kids that she spent time with. She hugged them, she loved on them, she picked them up and carried them around. She made contact with them other than just walking through a room and speaking to them. She really got down and spent some quality time with them which is exactly what we wanted. Even our homeless men and women, she treated them with respect and kindness. She put her arm around them, and took pictures with them, and made them feel very comfortable with her. She came in like nobody else has ever come in and made our family feel like they were somebody. To say we were grateful for what she did is an understatement because she was phenomenal. We couldn’t have asked her to come in and do more than she did. She did exactly what we had hoped and we would liked to have had, but she went above and beyond that. She was wonderful and our kids just loved her, just absolutely loved her!”
Lauren certainly left everyone at the City of Refuge with a smile on their faces that day – both young and old and Director Pam couldn’t say enough nice things about her. “I know she’s on the road a lot and being home with her family is invaluable because she doesn’t get to do that very much, so for her to take the hours that she did to come down to a homeless shelter to spend some time with individuals that she may or may not ever see again was priceless to us. We can’t thank her enough and we wanted her to know how grateful we are that she did give up some of her personal time to come spend time with our family.”
Just as she was about to leave, Lauren jumped out of her car and ran back up to ask if she could come back around Christmas time to help hand out presents…how sweet!
If you are interested in helping the City of Refuge, you can head on over to http://www.cityofrefugedalton.org.
Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the Dalton show this Friday to see Lauren and to help out the City of Refuge! Check out some photos below of Lauren visiting the City of Refuge, courtesy of Amy Braz.