Alumni Profile: Robert Hughes
Posted by: DVULI | November 28, 2023
by Gerald Bell (Kansas City 2003), Staff
► ALUMNI: Robert Hughes (Atlanta 2014)
► ORGANIZATION: Restoration Storehouse Center Association
► CURRENT POSITION: Executive Director
How long have you been involved in youth programs?
I began mentoring and teaching Sunday school to middle and high school students while starting my career in New Jersey. After 9/11, I relocated to Atlanta for seminary and became a youth pastor at Providence Missionary Baptist Church for five years. I had a vision for a television program that provided a forum for youth to talk about current events. That’s when I launched my own youth program called Youth Universe. Through media, youth had a voice in contemporary issues and the impact it had on their lives. Youth Universe grew to engage in local community work that connected children and families to multiple resources. That kind of work expanded my vision, and I decided to come alongside existing organizations to address the poverty youth and families were facing. Eventually, I joined the staff of Restoration Storehouse Center as Operations Director, and today I serve as Executive Director.
Tell us about Restoration Storehouse Center and how you fulfill its mission.
Restoration Storehouse Center (RSC) is a collaborative network of independent nonprofit organizations serving families primarily in Rockdale County, Georgia. Its goal is to help youth and families discover paths out of poverty. The nonprofits provide a range of services, including early childhood education, workforce development for youth, and supportive housing for women with children, to name a few. As Executive Director, I help fulfill the mission of RSC by finding resources and people who care about the health and well-being of area youth, families, and neighbors. I invite them to serve with me to give specific attention to alleviating the stigma and stain of poverty.
Why do you think God has called you to this work?
I think God has called me to this work because the Church (globally) needs to work in and alongside families and communities every day. The opportunity to demonstrate my faith in God by offering Christ-like leadership, care, and love to people across class, race, ethnicity, and nationality allows Christ to live through me. At RSC, I can put my faith, passion, and mission into practice. I believe the issue of poverty is solvable, and I am honored to work in this space.
What do you hope to accomplish while you serve in this capacity?
I hope to introduce emerging workforce development training opportunities that will encourage youth to remain or return as residents to Rockdale County and choose to worship, work, start businesses, raise families, and establish a financially secure multigenerational presence. I hope to complete the buildout of our campus to house our partners on-site, strengthening our collective impact and helping families in need overcome transportation barriers preventing access to services. Further, I hope to build a learning community of faith practitioners to generate resources that help families solve poverty and economic development issues in Rockdale County.
What challenges have you or the organization had to overcome?
I have had to overcome the challenge of balancing the interests of 12 independent nonprofit organizations and guiding our commitment to operate with a collective impact model. As an organization, we are always challenged to model the ethics, behaviors, and practices of what we share with our families for stability, maturity, and creating a thriving culture.
What are you most proud of that the program has accomplished?
I am most proud of the families that return for additional services or express interest in becoming volunteers. When this happens, it gives us insight into how we have established trusted relationships with family members. It fosters the growing confidence of a participant to pursue additional services while deepening relationships. The family experiences victories and is motivated to keep moving forward on a pathway to stability. As a result, poverty becomes solvable, and leaving poverty for good becomes a reality.
What kind of collaborative opportunities are benefiting this work?
We are well positioned geographically in Rockdale County to be a space of convening and building across many constituencies, including nonprofit citizens groups, schools, businesses, churches, elected officials, government agencies, and community-based organizations. We see a high level of engagement across these partners, and that increases the collaborative focus on solving poverty. We review our partner operations monthly and identify areas where system changes are needed.
What can your DVULI family be praying for as you move forward?
I request prayer for my strategic leadership of RSC, as well as for my own family. Pray for my continued balance of work, study, exploration, and rest so that I act through the power of the Holy Spirit with boldness, courage, and confidence. Also, pray for the opportunity to expand the RSC board of directors and senior leadership team. Pray that we share healthy relationships with community members, partner staff, and the youth and families we serve so we can work together to discover solutions to the poverty experienced in our community.