Warehouse work that shows compassion and love

She’s been with StreetWise for less than two months, but her heart of service goes right to the core of what StreetWise is all about. Charlene Mitchell, who joined the team as warehouse manager in May, starts her day off early and with others in mind.

“Typically, my day starts around 7:30 a.m. I want the volunteers to have a good place to work, so I make sure everything is ready for the day before they arrive,” she said. “While every day is different, God has been so gracious to StreetWise. We spend quite a bit of time receiving food donations and sorting through them – to ensure what we share is what we’d want on our own tables – as well as packing boxes.”

Charlene was committed to starting out her job right – even when it involved sticky situations.

“To really know about the warehouse and be an effective manager, I knew I needed to learn various aspects of what everyone does,” Charlene said. “Right after I started, I picked up a case of oranges, not knowing there were quite a few overripe ones leaking out the bottom of the case. I was immediately ‘baptized’ with overripe orange juice with no change of clothing for the day!”

Whether covered in sticky citrus, or going through a typical day, Charlene desires to show love and compassion. To those receiving help, maybe for the first time ever, she’s seen firsthand that a box of food and a kind word can mean much more than what it would seem.

“In just the short time I’ve been at StreetWise, I’ve seen lives changed by the simple act of sharing food, concern, scripture and love,” Charlene said. “When people don’t know where their meals are going to come from, it’s wonderful to provide both food and spiritual help. And the spiritual healing that God pours through StreetWise to our clients is uplifting to all of us.

“I see the love and care our volunteers give to each other and to our clients. When there’s an extra-special need our advisors tell us about – like extra water or a specialty box – everyone gathers together to get it. Whoever is in need, it’s all about showing love and compassion.

Charlene also recognizes the important roles each of her fellow StreetWise team members – staff and volunteers – play in serving Gwinnett county.

“I’m incredibly grateful for my co-workers. If it wasn’t for their willingness to commit to volunteer hours, StreetWise couldn’t provide such a wonderful ministry here in our community. 

“If anyone is looking for a place to volunteer, join us at StreetWise! We have fun and fellowship throughout the day while we work.”

Even in her spare time, Charlene provides refuge and care to some of the smallest and most vulnerable.

“I like to call myself an ‘orphan collector’. When my kids were little, my house was always a revolving door of kids and stray animals who just needed extra attention or love,” she said. “Now that my kids are grown, I have three abandoned cats, two raccoons, and an orphaned baby possum living in my backyard. They come on the deck to eat, get water, sleep and feel safe.”

Feeling safe and secure certainly isn’t a guarantee for any of us.

“At one point or another, due to their circumstances, everyone has either needed a helping hand or known someone who did. And somewhere, someone was there for them,” Charlene said.

“If you’re in need, I highly recommend coming to StreetWise. God has instructed us to care for others – physically and spiritually – and we do so, no matter the season of life our clients are in. And there’s no judgmental attitude at StreetWise. Our advisors are open and caring. I’m consistently reminded of the phrase ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’” 

As she continues in her position, Charlene said she’s excited to see what God has planned for the Lawrenceville organization. 

“What I’m most looking forward to as I grow in my position is watching what God has in store for StreetWise. Our ability to care for our community revolves around not only spiritual needs but also physical needs, which we meet through our warehouse,” she said. 

“As we all face uncertain times ahead, I feel that God has His hand on StreetWise and is directing us to continue to care for our community – and I believe He’ll continue to provide the way for us to do just that.”

Want to help meet one tangible need right now? Even helpers need help sometimes. Inflation has affected everyone, including StreetWise, especially due to the high cost of gas. 


“Rising gas prices are not only affecting everyone individually, it has a significant effect on nonprofits like StreetWise,” Charlene said. “We run a refrigerated truck in order to keep meat, produce, and dairy at food-safe temperatures during transit, and both the truck and the refrigeration units run on diesel. 


“Even when the engine is off, while we’re loading the truck with pickups, we have to have the refrigeration unit running. Between the heat and the gas prices, it can be challenging to keep both the refrigerated truck and van on the road five days a week.”


Such challenges only provide more opportunities to extend generosity and care.


“StreetWise is a great place to donate,” Charlene said. “Help us help those who need it!”


Give now at streetwisegeorgia.org/get-involved/donate-today