Self-less: concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish.

If I could, I would add a photo next to this definition in the dictionary of my friend Pam Smith. The next best thing I could do is introduce her here and share the photo of us together at The Open Door House. Pam is the Program Director for Cooperative Christian Ministry. She wears many hats and has a full calendar, but she took time out of her day and came to visit with me this week and tour the house for the first time. We had a wonderful time catching up and before she could leave, I asked to take a picture with her. She protested but I convinced her to do so anyway and, here you have it. Who wouldn’t want to see this lovely face of hers?!

I first met Pam at a HUBB Summit meeting on February 28, 2019. This was the first meeting I attended as the founder of The Open Door House. I was a little overwhelmed to be in a room filled with local agencies who were gathered to discuss community needs and how we were going to help the under-served be loved and supported. We broke up into individual groups based on our area of interest; I went to the housing group. That is where I met Pam, she was the facilitator of our group, and she was just fantastic. When the summit was over, I approached Pam and introduced myself to her, which is not something I am comfortable doing. But Pam has a presence about her, she is welcoming and warm, someone you just want to get to know. I explained that TODH was a new organization and shared our mission for homeless and aged-out youth, she understood immediately what we were about and the need we were trying to meet. And that’s where everything changed for me.

Pam made sure to invite me to every networking function; Coffee and Conversation meetings, nonprofit workshops, Lunch and Learn, leadership training and more! She has been foundational to where we are today, and I don’t know where I would be without her support and guidance. The best part is this is just who Pam is. This is not a forced effort on her part, it’s effortless, it is part of her DNA. This is probably why she is the Program Director for CCM because she is always thinking of ways to make life easier for others, she is just a natural at being a ‘difference-maker’. 

When our visit together was coming to an end, I walked Pam to her car where we hugged and said good-bye. Of course, she emphasized to please reach out if we are in need of anything. As she drove off, I went back into the house smiling to myself and thanking God for friends like Pam. I have no doubt that divine intervention played a part in getting that invitation to the HUBB Summit, I was supposed to meet Pam because I prayed for her. Starting a nonprofit with absolutely no idea what I was doing was the scariest thing I have ever done. I prayed for God to introduce me to the people who could best guide me along the way, and He has been so faithful to that prayer.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
- Romans 8:28
Thankful for Facebook memories.

Thankful for Facebook memories.

Living proof God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called…

A memory popped up on my Facebook timeline recently, it was from a trip to Place of Hope in Palm Beach, Florida. I wanted to show my husband the place where a seed was planted in my heart for youth aging out of foster care and give him a first-hand look at where I hoped The Open Door House would be one day. Marc and I took that trip in February of 2019, four months after I left my career in furniture and design to focus on The Open Door House full-time. Josh Kolkana, the Executive Director, set aside two full days to give us tours and meet their staff. 

The first day of tours was at their Palm Beach campus where they serve foster families, youth who have aged out of foster care, and homeless young adults and young moms. The campus was beautiful, the cottages were perfect, the staff top-notch and their programs and services speak for themselves with their success stories. We left that day, and I was completely overwhelmed, how was I going to accomplish even a fraction of what they have built? I felt defeated. The next morning, I woke up early to read, I had started the One Year Bible and was currently in Exodus. The chapter for that day was Exodus 36 and when I read verses 3-5 I knew everything was going to be ok. ‘Moses gave them materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!” I felt God was telling me to have faith, keep moving forward and we will have what we need. 

In January of 2020 we were gifted the use of a house to begin our mission of providing safe, stable and supportive services to youth aging out of foster care. The vision was coming to fruition and I was elated. I started painting and making plans for fundraising events, there was so much to be excited about and then, the pandemic hit. Remember that defeated feeling from 2019? It was back. Finally, with the end of April came looser restrictions and I knew I had to get back in our house and see it, touch it, claim it! May came and so did wonderful volunteers, things were moving along again. There was so much work to be done, more than I and my volunteers were capable of, and we needed a lot of materials. The only hurdle was the lack of funds. I remember writing a deposit check for our kitchen cabinets and wondering where the rest of the money was going to come from and then, God showed up in really big ways. Between June and December, we raised more money than all of 2019! People who we had never met sent us checks because they believed in our mission and wanted to be part of the solution. It was nothing short of miraculous.


As I type this post, our house is finished and we are getting ready to welcome our first residents in the coming weeks and months. We have an incredible case coordinator and community partners, board members who are passionate about youth, and of course the support and encouragement from the people of Place of Hope.

To say that I am humbled would be an understatement. I still question why God chose me to care for his most vulnerable children, the ones who have been forgotten for far too long.

Fortunately, I have friends to remind me that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. And I am living proof.

My Story, by Doria Patterson

My Story, by Doria Patterson

Doria earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from North Carolina Central University May 2020. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program this fall.

Doria earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from North Carolina Central University May 2020. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program this fall.

Many individuals think of Foster Care as being a negative experience for the children that are in the system. That was not the case for me. I became a part of “the system” at age 15 and I aged out at age 18. Three short years that made such a huge impact in my life. But before the sunshine there was definitely rain. Before I became a foster child, I attempted to support myself in every way possible. I connected with my high school corrections officer to try and emancipate myself but I quickly realized that was not possible. I slept at multiple friends’ houses , brought duffle bags to school everyday filled with clothes, and the hardest for me was sleeping in my (ex)boyfriend’s car at the time while it was parked in the garage of his grandparents’ home. That was the final breaking point for me. I ran out of options and I truly felt homeless. If there was a place like The Open Door House back then, I can honestly say that I would have NEVER had to feel homeless another day in my life. To have a place that I could call home was the only thing that kept me going. I eventually got placed with a (not so good) family that provided me with a stable home, yes, but did not provide me with the necessary tools to truly believe in myself. That is what The Open Door House is all about ! A home that will be not only a safe haven, but it will be a house that will provide so many opportunities for these girls.

When you age out of the system in Cabarrus County, you have the option to either leave your placement, move with a close relative, or just simply be on your own . For me, I just wanted to live alone because of my need/want to be independent. Being independent is one thing that you can never take away from any child or adult in foster care. The Open Door House will be a place for young women to be independent. The home itself already has such a positive aura about it ! It makes me want to smile everytime I think about how happy those girls will be walking into their home everyday. Not just some building that houses 40+ kids with barely any space to be independent.

When I aged out of foster care, I was given the opportunity to go to a 4-year college in Durham at North Carolina Central University . So housing was not an issue for me BUT, if I had decided not to go to college, I would not have had a stable home to live in therefore, I would have gone right back to being homeless. This is why The Open Door House would have been the PERFECT place for a girl like me ! A place that young women can call home. As soon as I walk into the doors of TODH, my heart lights up ! The scripture that you’ll receive as soon as you walk in (Phillipians 4:13), the beautiful chandeliers, the NEW appliances, bedding, decorations, everything that a young girl like me would have loved to see . This will help the girls who live there understand that they are loved, they are cared for, and they are important.

I don’t believe in coincidences

I don’t believe in coincidences

It’s true, I don’t believe in coincidences but in connections and opportunities created by our Creator. This morning was a perfect example.

I was honored to attend the Pastors and Leadership Breakfast, hosted by Cooperative Christian ministry. I walked into the room and began scanning the tables for a place to sit; I noticed a lady with a big smile and knew I found my seat. I sat down and Ms. Ruth Brooks introduced herself and her ministry, the Multicultural Community Student Union, serving underprivileged youth in Cabarrus County schools. Ms. Ruth has be doing this for 35 years, loving kids and their families and assisting them in anyway she can. Ruth then asked about me, I shared TODH and our mission to provide loving, supportive housing for youth aging out of foster care. What she said next confirmed my beliefs, or should I say lack thereof. When Ruth was 12 her mom died and her dad was not in her life; she was placed into foster care. Her foster family was not nice, in fact they were quite abusive. Keep in mind, this was 60 years ago, before systems were in place and in fact, it is the horror stories of the previous foster system that lead to all of the changes and implementations that we have now. 

When Ruth turned 18 she has no family and no where to go, in other words Ruth aged out of the system. A wonderful guidance counselor in her high school tried to persuade her to go to Barber Scotia college but Ruth didn’t feel prepared for that type of commitment and didn’t have the support of a family to guide her along that path. After graduation, the only option she could think of was to become a live-in maid so she hopped a train and worked for a family in Boston. Ruth talked about the long hours and hard work, taking care of the family and scrubbing every inch of their 3 storied home. After a year of being a maid, Ruth decided maybe she would go to college. She moved back to Concord and attended Barber Scotia, unfortunately she failed out after her first year. After some time and some personal trials and tribulations Ruth ended up joining the Marine Corp, getting a bachelors degree and then a masters. There is so much more to her incredible story and someday, with her permission, I would love to share it. 

I asked Ruth if she would share her story with the young people who will be part of TODH. She paused, her eyes filled with tears, and then my eyes filled with tears, and she said what I had been feeling; God placed us at that table together for a reason. After that we were both crying, I mean how could you not? This is just one of the many stories of the gifts God has given me over the past 2 years, the incredible people who are helping us locate a house, develop land, create our programming, mentorship, and the list goes on! He is so very good and faithful and His love humbles me every single day.

So I will say it again, I do not believe in coincidences. I certainly do not.

You can’t make this stuff up.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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A few weeks ago I was talking with a close friend, we were discussing all of the amazing things God has done in the past year. I shared the people who have become part of our ‘village’, the events I was invited to which led to meeting ‘said’ people, the fundraisers, partnerships, etc. Her response was, ‘You can’t make this stuff up!’. She then suggested writing it all down so none of it would be forgotten and could be shared. So with that, I sat down and began assembling a timeline of events from the very beginning of it all, the service project at Villages of Hope in 2015, to what was happening during this month of December 2019. The timeline grew to 2 pages of dates, names, meetings, introductions and a few miracles thrown in. Once it was completed I looked it over and agreed with my friend, you really can’t make this stuff up!

Since I began focusing on The Open Door House full-time, my prayer has always been for God to bring us the people who can help to see this vision come to fruition. He continues to answer my prayers in such incredible ways. Very early this year  I was introduced to Karen Calhoun, the director of Cabarrus County DHS, and she invited to me to attend the HUBB Summit in February. That simple introduction changed the entire trajectory of The Open Door House- thank you Karen! During that summit, I sat in on the housing group to discuss the housing shortage we are facing in our community. During that breakout session I met the program director of Cooperative Christian Ministry, the fabulous Pam Smith. From that meeting, Pam has invited me to workshops and events which has led me to meet other influential folks who are doing incredible things for the underserved. During a Lunch and Learn in Kannapolis, I attended as a vendor and set up a table with information about The Open Door House. A gentleman approached my table and began to talk with me about his experience with programs for youth who have aged out of foster care and homeless young adults and expressed his desire to help us create our own programs, oh and by the way- he’s a former foster youth. What?! Since then we have met regularly, either in person or by phone, and he has shared his vast knowledge of program development. Curtis has become a wonderful friend and an incredible partner to The Open Door House. 

There are so many more friends I want to introduce you to who have been instrumental to our growth this past year. Check back next Friday for Part 2 of ‘You can’t make this stuff up!’  to meet the other amazing people who have helped to create our village.

Villages of Hope Trip:  2/19

Villages of Hope Trip: 2/19

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The photo above is the apartment that I helped to decorate back in October 2015. Returning to this place meant more to me than I could possibly put into words and having the opportunity to bring my husband, Marc, was just amazing. I returned for a number of reasons; Marc needed to see each campus to understand the scope of services offered through Place of Hope and Villages of Hope, we both needed to meet with Josh, the director of Place of Hope and to further discuss the important practices we would like to incorporate at The Open Door House. During our two-day visit we toured 3 campuses, met with their clinical director, campus manager, director of advancement and had a conference call with the CEO. We left with our heads spinning and hearts bursting, eager to get back home and start working. This trip reaffirmed my dream of having a campus setting similar to theirs, with the addition of some sort of retail attached where our residents can work to learn a skill, as well as have a business that can help to generate income for our foundation (think The King’s Kitchen in Charlotte- love these guys!). So very thankful that the Lord led me to the Villages of Hope over 3 years ago, thankful that Josh, the staff and the CEO are incredibly generous with information and knowledge to help us advance our mission. This journey has been by far, the most difficult undertaking of my life. What keeps me going? Knowing that there are 11,000 kids currently in foster care and each year more than 500 of them will age out and 20% will become instantly homeless. It keeps me up at night and I won’t rest until we have our first house.

Timing is everything.

Timing is everything.

Since the beginning of my journey in October of 2015, God has coordinated the timing of each new chapter in astonishing ways so I shouldn’t be surprised that he led me to leave Bassett at the end of November, right at the beginning of the Christmas season. The month of December is all about preparing for the 25th, it’s a time of Advent to get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, for buying gifts for friends and family, planning parties and the meals that will be shared. If you’re a fan of movies, in a scene from Home Alone, Kevin’s mom is desperately trying to get home to her son and in a moment of sheer panic yells at the ticket agent, “Christmas is the season of perpetual hope!”. That line got me to thinking about timing and the hope that comes with this time of year.

After our launch party this past Wednesday, I was filled with the love of family, friends, and new friends I had just met who came out to support The Open Door House. Later that day a new feeling came over me, I also began to feel a bit of the panic that Kevin’s mom felt in that scene, but mine was about money. Suddenly thoughts of how I would raise enough money to purchase a house next spring began to overtake my thoughts and a sense of dread washed over me. Then I remembered all the other tasks I had to complete before I could even begin to move kids into a house and it all spiraled downhill from there. Thankfully, because God knows my heart, he placed a wonderful friend in my life who keeps me centered and speaks truth into my heart when I need it most. Her name is Angela and she’s the beauty in the black scarf standing with me in the photo below. Friday morning we met for coffee and I unloaded my thoughts and fears in a stream of babbling chaos. When I was done she told me of a passage in 1 Kings 19:12.


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I need to be patient and wait, his messages to us aren’t always grand but often very quiet. This ministry is not mine, it’s his and I am not in control of the way it unfolds. A few years ago this would have unnerved me, in fact the first 2 1/2 years of working on what would soon be The Open Door House, I often found myself feeling very frustrated in the slowness of it all. But Angela reminded me that his timing is perfect and to trust in it and him. Once I let go and truly let him lead, I was finally able to relax and just enjoy the process (most days). I am a self-proclaimed control freak so the act of handing over and letting go is not something I’m used to but it has been such a freeing experience, thank you God!

What does all of this mean? I am going to keep working on what I know I need to be doing and let the rest fall into place. Right now I’m working through an online ministry certification for nonprofits, I’m continuing to meet with members of my community to share my story and passion for these kids that I will be serving, and I’m working on another fundraiser with the help of my amazing and supportive husband. Waiting for God doesn’t mean hanging out and watching Netflix, it means putting your head down and as my son says, grinding. Working hard and waiting for God to introduce me to the next person who can advise me, the next person who will be touched by the staggering statistics of kids who have aged out of foster care and want to support The Open Door House. Most importantly I will be praying for wisdom, strength, clarity, and a humble heart. For the kids who are aging out, may God fill them with a peace that there are people in the world who are fighting for them every day and that soon, very soon there will be a house for them and people waiting to love them and who will have their back, where they will find shelter, safety and know what it means to be wanted and valued. 

Timing is everything; praying the timing is soon. 

Be the answer.

Be the answer.

From time to time I have heard the question “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” or “Why doesn’t God help those people?”. I am not a theologian and I am still working my way through the Bible, one book at a time. I have, however, put my faith in God my entire life and trusted in him to see me through the bad times- starting at age 18 when I lost my dad to cancer. Over the past 3 years I have begun to really dig into my Bible, participated in Bible studies, taken notes on the messages given during church, listen to Podcasts by Andy Stanley and Francis Chan, and had many conversations with those who have dedicated their life to serving Jesus. None of this makes me an expert and I’m still in the infancy stage of learning, what I have taken away from these experiences is the same message over and over, WE are the answer to the woes of the world. It’s up to US to help those who have been wronged, who don’t have a voice and who are helpless. 

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of the orphans. 

1 Peter 5:2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly- not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

ALL children are part of our flock, just as the saying goes ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ we must be that village that steps up. Right now our children are under attack by the evils of the world, the opioid crisis alone has increased the number of children in foster care by 10% between 2012 and 2016, a study from the federal Department of Health and Human Services attributes this increase to the rising number of overdose deaths among parents. The kids that grow up in this environment will repeat the cycle of abuse and poverty if we don’t step in and make a difference. The Open Door House will be reversing the cycle of poverty, abuse and neglect. From my good friend Josh Kolkana, director of Villages of Hope: “Without very intentional intervention, we should expect nothing other than for the cycle to continue in the same way it always has- IT WILL NOT CORRECT ITSELF. It will be a difficult task, a long term commitment and require the financial support of the community, but it will be worth it! This is not someone else’s problem; this is all of our OPPORTUNITY to forever change the trajectory of a life and every connected life thereafter! You are litterally setting in to place a new future.”

Who’s with me? Who else wants to be part of ending the cycle of abuse, poverty and neglect and change the life of a young person forever? And ultimately change the life of their child and grandchild?!! It’s time for all of us to come together and BE THE ANSWER!!!!!!



I woke up really early this morning; it was still dark outside, so I knew it wasn’t time to get up yet. As I laid in bed trying to go back to sleep, my mind raced through all of the tasks at hand, all the to-do lists for The Open Door House.

I tossed and turned for a while trying to go back to sleep, enjoying the warmth of my flannel sheets, the blankets and and how very safe I felt. In that early morning hour I thanked God for my bed and the warmth, thanked him for my home and the feeling of security that goes along with it.

And then I thought about the kids who are living in foster homes, most have been shuffled from home to home most of their young lives, not knowing the joy of having a bed and a home to call their own. I thought about the older kids who have turned 18 and were no longer in foster care, the kids with no options and no where to go.

I prayed for them all, then I prayed for the kids who I will someday serve and will call The Open Door House their home. I pray for their safety, I pray God will give them some peace and an understanding that very soon there will be someone in their corner, they will be safe and protected. I long for that day, my prayer is that we will have our first house this spring and we can begin the journey to healing and moving on. 

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