Providing the homeless a ray of hope
Dorphelia and Wilbert Forster fold and bag clothes destined for one of the homeless shelters in Huntsville, Ala.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-Dorphelia and Wilbert Foster have found that helping others is a great way to help themselves.

The couple began reaching out to others the day they wed. After marrying in Madison, Ala., the Fosters stopped in Birmingham, Ala., along their honeymoon journey.

"As we were travelling the streets of downtown we came upon several homeless people lying in the storefronts and walking the sidewalks," said Dorphelia, a contracting officer at Army Contracting Command-Redstone. "Although it was raining we both felt compelled to stop and speak with them. God put it on my husband's heart. My heart was in tune and in agreement and off we started."

Eight years after that impromptu night, the Fosters continue their homeless outreach at tent cities around the Huntsville area.

"We most frequently visit a homeless camp under Interstate 565," said Dorphelia.

The day shelter, overseen by First Stop, Inc., provides basic services to the homeless in Huntsville and Madison County.

Wilbert, a native of Birmingham and local small business owner, says growing up in the projects as one of 14 children gave him an understanding of hunger.

"We try to visit the camp every couple of months," said Wilbert. "When I'm blessed with a little extra I just want to share it with them so they have a better day. We sit down to laugh and talk, it's great to put a smile on someone's face."

Dorphelia, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., said she simply loves people and has a passion for outreach.

"We've both been used as vessels in our life to help people and have always loved it. The homeless are people too, so we're led by God to reach out to them as well," Dorphelia said.

When they visit the shelters, the Fosters bring gently-used clothes and lots of food.

"Sometimes, friends and co-workers will donate as well," said Dorphelia. "We're just there to lend a listening ear and share some spiritual encouragement and insight from God's word."

Page last updated Thu September 13th, 2012 at 00:00