Board member of 20 years feels renewed love for StreetWise’s mission

Brad and wife Robyn

It’s been decades since Brad Anderson first heard about StreetWise – but after that, it didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to be a part of it.

In fact, he first knew the ministry as Baskin and Sonshine, the clown ministry that StreetWise founders Terry and Pat Powell started out doing.

“I saw one of their performances at my church, and it just touched me so deeply; it made me cry,” Brad said. “That’s when my wife and I knew we wanted to support their ministry.”

Over the years, the Powells changed gears from downtown Atlanta to focus their ministry on Gwinnett County – and Brad was there every step of the way, even seeing them through to their first building in Lawrenceville to its current location on Cedar’s road.

He also came on the board in the early 2000s, only taking time away from the ministry for around two and a half years before returning to the position. 

Looking back, Brad sees the power of the message they shared as a running thread through everything StreetWise – and Baskin and Sonshine – stands for.

“They really got StreetWise established in Lawrenceville and not just as a food bank, but as a ministry. They would go out to trailer parks, and they would have church!” Brad said. “People would come out of their homes to hear what Terry had to say.”

Despite the good done, there were times of struggle, too.

“There were times where StreetWise wasn’t even month-to-month; it was week-to-week. We didn’t know if the doors would stay open,” he said. “But it was amazing to watch God send exactly what was needed – a check would come in at just the right time to pay to keep the lights on.”

That’s something they see time and again at StreetWise, too: God working things out exactly on time. There are too many to even recount.

Another driving force at StreetWise is its people. Through good and bad, Brad has seen caring people show up to serve at StreetWise, all for a common purpose: showing the love of Jesus and meet people’s needs.

“The faithfulness of the volunteers at StreetWise is just incredible. Even when times were hard, people would come in and work like dogs all for a common purpose,” Brad said. “We don’t want to enable people, but we want to help them help themselves.”

That’s one reason Brad is especially excited to see needs being met through StreetWise’s teen program.

“I just love that this group actually named themselves (TeenWise). Teens are a group that’s often overlooked, and we love being able to help them make good choices for themselves and establish a new path forward,” he said. “We want them to know that they’re cared for.”

L-R: son Austin, daughter-in-law Amy (pregnant with second grandson Aaron), first grandson Alden, wife Robyn, Brad

That heart for others is something Brad hopes shines through both in his story and StreetWise’s as a whole.

Along with serving on StreetWise’s board of directors, Brad enjoys supporting Hope Garden Project – a nonprofit that builds opportunity and hope to children living in impoverished communities in the Bahamas following back-to-back hurricanes. With the founding couple and a handful of others, he helped build a playground at a daycare center this spring.

Brad has been retired for five years, following a 30-year career as an Principal Engineering Technician with Coca Cola corporate, and enjoys, along with his wife Robyn, caring full-time for their grandchildren while his son and daughter in law are at work.

One person he feels is truly ushering StreetWise into a new era of influence in metro Atlanta? Executive Director Tracy Joseph.

“I’ve just been so impressed with Tracy’s leadership,” Brad said. “He has both a heart and a vision for StreetWise’s mission and wants to see it through to new things.”

Brad himself has hopes that StreetWise will continue to do its work well serving those in need and in the process, grow to have greater visibility and a presence of leadership in the area.

“There was a time I was thinking about stepping down from the board. But after seeing the importance of what StreetWise does in a new light during the pandemic, I wanted to stay,” he said. “I really have a renewed passion for Streetwise and its mission.”