It’s hard not to get swept up in the enthusiasm Stacy Dodd has for other people and for helping other people. His excitement for caring and coming to aid others is infectious.
There was a time when that not the case for Dodd, who today splits his time between several responsibilities he has.
Dodd works as Director of Operations for Turning Point Recovery Center in Southaven. He is the vision behind the Hope Center program centered in Horn Lake and he is working with Celebrate Recovery for those dealing with addiction.
“I am a Celebrate Recovery state representative for Northwest Mississippi and I led the Celebrate Recovery program locally here for nine years,” Dodd said.
But many go through a valley to get to the mountaintop and such was the case for Dodd nearly two decades ago, before he met God.
That valley included drug addiction and finding himself without a home.
“There was a time in my life where I didn’t believe in God,” Dodd explains. “I knew there was something out there but I didn’t understand and believe in God. Through my struggles and hitting rock bottom back in 2001, I was living on the streets and homeless.”
Dodd’s introduction to God and Jesus Christ came as a result of a program that helped bring him up from the valley.
“I ended up going through a six-month cognitive therapy program and at that point I started discovering myself again,” Dodd said. “God introduced himself to me in the program and I got baptized and gave my life to the Lord.”
From the valley of despair, Dodd said he found true joy, a joy he now is excited to share with others.
“I tell others about Jesus everywhere I go. That’s what saved my life and I know that,” said Dodd. “I’ve been clean (from drugs) for about 18 years now. The reason I do what I do is that the Spirit that is in me now wasn’t in there before. It’s a new thing and it’s brought me so much joy and happiness to my life that was once so empty and dark.”
Three years ago, Dodd and others started the Hope Center community center concept based in Horn Lake, the start of what he envisions would be the first of several in DeSoto County. The primary base for the program is at Horn Lake Intermediate School, although several activities will go out in other parts of the community. The dream is for a building to eventually be built, but Dodd said they are fine doing what they do now.
“The Hope Center started out as a dream,” he noted. “We started out with nothing about three years ago and now it’s grown to be something.”
The idea may be of a community center, but Dodd said love is the foundation.
“The main mission of the Hope Center is love,” Dodd said. “Everything about the Hope Center is centered and founded on the love of God. Through the Hope Center, we can take that love to anywhere that we want to take it that will allow us to come and bring love, happiness, joy and energy.”
One of the Hope Center’s upcoming events takes place Saturday. It is a block party with the Memphis Grizzlies to help encourage mentorship efforts to youngsters. “This past year, the Hope Center became a Memphis Grizzlies’ affiliate of its Youth Mentorship Program,” Dodd said. “We’re the first one in DeSoto County to become an affiliate. We’re going to have mentor signups when youngsters can be assigned to a mentor.”
The time will also be fun, with bounce houses and games, free hot dogs and Kona Ice.
Hours at Horn Lake Intermediate School will be from 1-4 p.m.
All of what Dodd does is meant to live a life giving back to others because of what was given to him when he was homeless and addicted to drugs 18 years ago.
“I can’t help but give it back to other people,” he states. “I can’t help but be at Celebrate Recovery on Friday night. I can’t help but do church at Turning Point on Sunday night. It’s an overwhelming gratitude in my heart for the life that I have. I want other people to know that if God can change my life, He can change their life.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.