Atlanta, GA (WGCL) — One of Atlanta’s poorest communities has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
Their lives have been touched by a local pastor who has dedicated his life to serving their needs and making sure, as the Fulton County chaplain, they’re not forgotten.
By the grace of God, there is hope beyond measure in the heart of Atlanta’s inner city.
Reverend Clifton Dawkins has made it his mission to serve people of all ages. Feeding the hungry is his way of feeding their souls.
“I think it really gives them some hope and encouragement that even in their situation they’re not forgotten. That they matter,” says Reverend Dawkins.
They are his brothers and sisters in Christ and for years, he has been there for them in life and in death.
“Some of the same people that we serve out here, we end up burying just due to the economic situation,” says Reverend Dawkins.
Twice a week, as county chaplain he holds graveside services at Lakeside Memorial Gardens for families that can’t afford a proper burial.
He buries about 12 people a week. 5,000 during the past 20 years. One right after another, treating each of them with dignity.
On this day, the pastor spoke final words over Adrienne Davis’ cousin, who died from a stroke.
“I really admire him for what he does in the neighborhood and what he’s doing now,” says Davis.
And he is also there on a parent’s darkest day, when he has to bury their child. And even on the toughest days, his faith keeps him going.
“I have great faith that what we’re doing is beneficial. (wipes tear off face) to these people,” says Reverend Dawkins.
Sadly, there are times when those who have passed on have no family, when Reverend Dawkins is the last one to say goodbye.
“I think I’ve got the heart for it because I love people and this is the right place to be showing some love,” says Reverend Dawkins.
Giving his heart to total strangers is what he does.
Like family, he’s there for them until the end, paying respects as they are laid to rest together. Poverty is their common bond.
“My thoughts or dreams is that when I get to heaven, that I see them again and they’ll say ‘hey man, I appreciate it,” continues Reverend Dawkins.
Through it all, one thing that gives the pastor peace is knowing he’s doing god’s work.
It’s a blessing to know that in both life and death you’ll never be forgotten, and always matter.
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