|Exousia Lighthouse’s ‘Mother Dollie’ honored as Obama beacon|
|Friday, 15 March 2013 01:11 | Written by Joshua Smith|
LITHONIA—Every Tuesday morning, around 8 a.m., you can find “Mother” Dollie Smarr praying for the less fortunate, opening up not only her heart but a clothes and food bank as well.
“I just love giving to people. My favorite hobby is cooking for people, especially my dressing and casseroles,” said the 66-year-old Smarr, who heads food pantry and clothes closet at Exousia Lighthouse International Christian Ministries. “Some people are waiting in line when I get here and I understand their need. My parents never let us realize it, but I grew up poor. I know what it’s like to wait in line for government cheese or SPAM and wonder where your next meal is coming from.”
Smarr was unexpectedly thanked in a big way for her community work. Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson presented her with President Obama’s “Call To Service Award” during a recent worship service at Exousia Lighthouse.
“I was so grateful and honored. I definitely feel blessed that the President would take out time to recognize me,” said Smarr, a retired Bellsouth operator and breast cancer survivor. “I must say that I couldn’t do any of this without my volunteers. We don’t meet every week for fame, no big hoopla. This is what we do. We are a giving, loving church.”
Smarr received an official letter from the White House that was signed by President Barack Obama, a Call to Service lapel pen and a letter of congratulations from the City of Lithonia.
“Thank you for helping to address the most pressing needs in your community and our country. Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise,” President Obama wrote. “Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great Nation.”
Through the food and clothing pantry ministry, the church serves at least 500 people a week. Over the last three years, the ministry has provided 80,000 pounds of food to the community through food donations from local grocery stores and financial contributions from church members and people in the community.
Bishop Carl McRae, who founded Exousia Lighthouse 10 years ago in Lithonia, says he considers “Mother Dollie” one of the ministry’s lights.
“She’s the type of member every pastor wants. She is truly a phenomenal woman. Mother is a founding member of this ministry,” said Bishop McRae, who founded the church in the basement of his Conyers home. “People might not even be able to pronounce the name of our church, but they know Mother Dollie will be there every week to pray for them and provide what we can. Many of the less fortunate have given their life to Christ through this ministry. We are feeding the mind, body and soul with Mother Dollie leading the way.”
Church member Chris Wilson says “Mother” Dollie is a vital part of the community, especially East DeKalb.
“The City of Lithonia joined us in nominating Mother for the President’s volunteer service award. She was chosen out of thousand recipients,” said Wilson. “Mother is a dedicated, lovely person. She makes it her duty to feed and provide service for the homeless and needy families in the East Dekalb area.”
Exousia Lighthouse Christian Ministries is located at 2562 Bond Street in Lithonia