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Finding Purpose In Community

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Woman of faith, wife, mom and community leader Amber Fogarty discusses her journey with Mobile Loaves & Fishes.

By Amber Fogarty, Photo by Thomas Aitchison

Faith, family, leadership, learning and homelessness: My life’s purpose is found in those five words. Each of us is on a journey to discover our purpose. My journey has been filled with twists and turns, ups and downs and even a few stalls, but today, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt why I’m here and what I’m called to do with my life. My purpose is crystal clear. But it hasn’t always been this way.

Sometimes in life, we realize something is missing but we have no idea what. Perhaps these moments come more often than we care to admit. Occasionally, we reach a place in our lives when we are able to embark on a journey to find what we are missing, and in doing so, find ourselves.

I remember clearly the moment nearly 15 years ago when I realized something was missing in my life. It is a moment I will never forget. In the weeks that followed, I did a lot of soul searching, praying and thinking.

On the outside, I appeared to have it all together. I was in the final months of the MBA program at St. Edward’s University while also working full time as a high-tech marketer. I had a big future in front of me. I was going places. Yet on the inside, I was lost, drifting, purposeless. So, I set out on a journey to find my purpose.

When I left Austin a few months later to become a full-time volunteer at a homeless ministry in Phoenix, I found myself wondering whether I was running away from something or running toward something. In hindsight, I can now clearly see all that I was running toward.

I found myself during my time in Phoenix, but that’s not all I found. I found community. I learned to value my family and friends more intensely. I discovered depths of pain I never knew existed and the enormity of human need. I became more deeply conscious of the dignity of every human being. I began to crystallize my priorities and how I wanted to live my life.

Journalist and activist Dorothy Day once said, “We have all known the long loneliness, and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes in community.” Ever since that turning point, I have been striving to live a life rooted in love and bound by community.

I returned to my beloved Austin in 2006, deeply and irrevocably changed. Today, I am a woman of faith, a wife, a mom of two kids I adore, a servant, a leader and an unwavering believer in the power of community. Community casts out fear, erases loneliness and creates unbreakable bonds.

I have the honor of serving as the chief goodness officer for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, an incredible organization that provides food and clothing, cultivates community and promotes dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters in need. Mobile Loaves & Fishes also created Community First Village, an innovative master-planned community that exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless. We believe housing will never solve homelessness, but community will.

What does that mean exactly? It means every one of us is empowered to serve. You are invited to be part of our mission at Mobile Loaves & Fishes. I invite you to your Community First Village, volunteer with us, watch a movie under the stars at our outdoor Community Cinema and serve alongside our formerly homeless neighbors who call the village home.

Who knows? While my journey took me out of state for a season of life, you may just find yourself and your purpose right here in your own backyard as you experience the transformative power of community.

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