DayBreak is an 11-year-old Christian ministry to the families and children of Northeast D.C.'s Lincoln Heights neighborhood. It provides after-school, mentoring and summer camp programs, and shares the message of Christianity. Lauren Allgood, a native of Dublin, Ga., left work in politics to serve as DayBreak's executive director.
Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?
Yes. I consider myself to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I most appreciate God's grace -- that even though I'm not a perfect person, that I'm accepted by God because of his grace through Jesus Christ.
What challenges do kids face in Lincoln Heights?
Lincoln Heights is a low-income community, and it does have challenges such as crime, violence and drugs. The one that we really focus on is a lack of educational opportunity. Our kids are going to schools that are not good schools; they're not given the opportunities of kids in other areas. But Lincoln Heights is a community where there is a lot of good. There are a lot of people who are trying to get their kids through school and raise good kids. There's also a sense of community in Lincoln Heights that you don't necessarily see in other parts of the city.
Tell me about a child your programs have helped succeed.
One in particular comes to mind. He's a young man in college now. His name is Elton. He lives next door to DayBreak; he came to our after-school program and was in our mentoring program. We saw him do really well in school and graduate. He has come back and interned the last three summers. Not only have we seen him succeed, but now he's coming back and giving to his community, which is really ultimately what we want to see in these kids.
You're sharing Christianity and helping kids with schoolwork. Are those two things linked?
We believe that if a child comes to know the Lord and is raised according to God's word, he will become an adult who serves others and looks beyond himself. We are Christians who are serving this community, and the Gospel --the good news of Jesus Christ -- is the thread through everything we do. So even in our interactions with kids and parents and the way we do classroom management, all of those things are based out of our faith in Christ. We interact with these kids out of love, and generously. Yes, we want to point them to Christ, but also we just want to live out what God's already done in us. For us to do that here in Lincoln Heights is to ask, "What are the needs of this community?" and one of those needs is education.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
My defining belief is that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. Because of God's great love, anyone who turns from their sin and puts their faith in Christ will have life and peace. And evidence of that faith is a life lived out in love for the glory of God and the good of others.