Ty'Shauna Randall and Dana Moore's lives crossed in, of all places, a church parking lot. Moore says she thinks that was God's plan.
"Ty'Shauna spoke first," Moore said.
"I was walking to school, taking the church way and I seen her pull up." Randall, a sixth grader from Jonesboro's Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet School said.
"I ended up walking her to school that day," Moore, office manager for Southwest Church of Christ explained.
"She asked me where I was going," Ty'Shauna said.
"The next day I came back to work and I parked in my usual spot. There she was waiting on me and I'm thinking this has to be a gift from God," Moore explained.
Ironic because just a short time before, Moore has been challenged by the preaching minister of Southwest Church of Christ to become part of a volunteer effort to help students of the Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet School.
Dr. Jimmy Adcox proposed the idea as part of the church's efforts to reach out and help troubled areas close to the church located at 1601 James St.
At that time, Moore had been a tutor at MicroSociety Magnet School for five years.
"In my mind, I'm like I'm not doing that. I've been at Micro for five years," Moore said. "I know those kids and those teachers. I don't want to abandon my kids."
Then, Ty'Shauna literally walked into her life.
"She means a lot to me," Ty'Shauna said. "I started going to Wednesday church, then she talked to my mom and signed me up for Girl Scouts."
Moore not only volunteers as a Girl Scout leader, but also works with young girls through a program that she helped to start.
It's a character-building program that tries to teach young girls the value of respect and the importance of an education.
Soon Moore's table of lunch buddies grew from one to two and sometimes three.
"She encouraged me to do more," C.J. Lenair said. "She tells me to do the right thing and showed me what respect is all about.
"She told me that I need to pick up my grades," Jazma Hooks said of her mentor, Dana Moore. "She made me change."
"You only learn to love if you've been loved," Moore said. "So I just really want to see that in the kids."
Moore soon influenced others to help from the Southwest Church of Christ.
"We worked with a tutoring program, the Lunch Buddy program, the Celebrating Behavior program," Joyce Woodham said.
Woodham attends Southwest Church of Christ and used to head up their Children's Worship ministry. She was part of a large delegation of church-goers, friends, family and representatives from First Community Bank that went to surprise Moore with $408 cash.
Even her husband, Chris Moore, paid tribute.
"As Christians, Dana will be the first to say thanks be to God for every blessing and honor we are given. But to receive them, your heart must be open," he said. "Those who know her, know that helping others is her true calling, and that recognition is the last thing she would want."
"It's incredible the depth of love this woman has for people—even people she doesn't know," Abbey Cartwright said.
She and Moore helped the city with a project called "The Point in Time Homeless Count."
"Before you know it, I've made a new friend and not really counted homeless people," Moore said. "There's a couple of them that I check on at least once a week."
She also helps women trying to put their lives back together at Reclamation House.
"She comes by and picks up our girls and helps them obtain their ID's after they get out of prison," Cathy Richardson, executive director of The Reclamation House said. "She is very passionate. She truly cares about the homeless."
"She's the nicest person I've ever met," Jazma Hooks said with a shy smile. The sixth grader joined classmate Ty'Shauna hugging Moore.
"She cares about me," Ty'Shauna said. Moore hugged both girls again and the pair headed off to class.
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