Change is underway at the Friends of Refugees Board. We are taking a moment to thank our outgoing board chair, Helen Shuford, for her years of dedicated service. Our community has thrived under her leadership, and we are grateful to bid her farewell with full hearts, prepared for the next season.
Helen’s transition means we will welcome long-time board member Joe Breedon as our new Board Chair.
Anyone who knows Joe knows he is caring, thoughtful, and wise. We are also grateful for his heart of service. For most people, retirement means stepping out of commitments at work and enjoying leisurely free time. Instead, despite being a few years into his retirement from his professional career, Joe is leaning more into the work of seeing refugees experience abundant life and flourishing communities.
Joe and his family moved from Miami to Atlanta in 2000. As a successful CFO and CPA, Joe wanted to become involved in mentoring others for career development. In the middle of his pursuit to use his gifts, knowledge, and wisdom, he found Friends of Refugees. Once he moved, he and his family wanted to attend a church where they could use their gifts to serve others.
“I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to investigate further. I met with the Executive Director at that time in 2015 and learned about the half-dozen programs Friends of Refugees offers—one was Start: ME (Start Micro-Entreprise). I became a mentor at Start: ME and have served in that capacity for seven years. That has been a wonderful experience, and it was my first volunteer exposure to Friends of Refugees.”
Joe didn’t just want to serve or put his skills to work—he wanted to build lasting relationships that would be mutually enriching. To make that happen, Joe had conversations with New Americans to hear more about their dreams and skills.
One particular refugee, an Iranian man named John, left a deep mark on him.
“John had an accounting degree and a very well-put-together resume. All he needed was a chance.
I invited him to a monthly career event we hold at Perimeter Church. I said, ‘John, getting a professional position in the US is all about networking.’ So we went to the event together, took the time to introduce ourselves to the speaker, and even exchanged resumes with him.
Soon enough, John landed a job as an accountant! He called me a year later. I thought he might be transitioning from the position, but it was quite the opposite. He called me because he’d gotten a raise and a bonus. Then he told me, ‘I remember you told me never to stop networking. I’d like to go to that event again.’ So we met up again. We had a great time, and his career has really taken off. I’ve been so proud to watch his journey.”
This specific desire to connect with people for the long haul is what we’re about at Friends of Refugees. We believe that mutually transformational relationships ensure everyone can experience abundant life in flourishing communities.
When asked about how he hopes to see Friends of Refugees do that in the next season, Joe is optimistic. One of the things he’s most excited about is making sure that employees at Friends of Refugees experience abundant life, too.
“I have a passion for developing people even if they end up moving on from Friends of Refugees. It’s important that they’re able to go on and serve someplace else. In whatever way I can personally support everything that Friends of Refugees is doing—I want to do it,” he says.
We are so grateful for Joe’s support and thrilled he agreed to step into the role of Board Chair. When people like you offer their gifts, the impact multiplies far beyond what we imagine!
If you’re interested in using your gifts, Friends of Refugees offers multiple ways to serve. To learn more about how you can get involved, click here to explore options to go deeper.