Celebrating 20 Years at HAP: Gayla Kidd Builds Local Org Into Thriving Community
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Walking in One’s purpose is what most people hope to accomplish at some point in their lifetime. For Gayla Kidd, Executive Director of HAP (Huntsville Assistance Program), she is more than confident that she is exactly where God needs her. Taking the role of ED at 60 is no surprise to those who know Gayla. Driven to serve God, she claims the job was designed precisely for her and she is still going strong 20 years later. Most people are preparing to retire at the time she accepted the role to lead HAP. Instead, Gayla took off one hat and put on a new one, humbly accepting this God-given gift.
At five feet zero inches tall she is a force to be reckoned with. To know Gayla, One quickly and easily grasps her love for life, her family, her God and her keen ability to express her convictions in a spirit of love at all times. It’s no surprise that Gayla dotes on her family in her offtime. Ask her about grandson, Parker, and her eyes sparkle brilliantly with unconditional love. Get her to sit long enough and she will share her role as “GiGi” to anyone who will listen. “It's the best job I’ve ever had. He’s my buddy! I love him and he loves me!”
Always on the go, Gayla starts everyday at 4 am. Her roommates are the perfect 4-legged companions, Sugar & Spice, who go everywhere with her, including the mission. She calls them her “Working Girls.” Their personalities match their names through-and-through. Once she is ready for the day there is no stopping her, she is on mission and her dress ensemble is always on point. She is one classy lady ready to serve the community with nothing short of excellence. In fact, she is presently in the final stages of opening the 3rd location where HAP will serve more of the community in Madison. Gayla trains every volunteer personally in an effort to ensure the message is clear and direct. Her processes in place, they are tried and true as she has perfected every detail. In order to open the Madison campus everyone must fall into their roles seamlessly and without hesitation to the white glove test of this Earth-Angel.
New visitors at HAP may think that the mission is simply to feed people who are struggling to get by and they would be partially right. Discussing her purpose over breakfast Gayla shared with me that HAP’s mission is to “Win people to the Kingdom by feeding them spiritually.” Don’t get it wrong, though, HAP provides food, toiletries, budgeting classes, and utility assistance. Whenever possible Gayla connects visitors to any one of the local churches and counseling if she can fill that needs as well. It’s not surprising that Gayla finds pure joy in her mission field. She gives all of herself when she is on the clock and watching her in action there is a guarantee that you will hear her tell someone, “I love you!” And she means it! This operation is very hands on and tangible as she offers hope and love to those who are most vulnerable in our community.
Sitting back in her chair, her laugh is contagious as she shares that she has been given the nickname, “Body Guard” by the volunteers of HAP. Curiosity got the best of me, “Who do you guard?” I had to know. Remember she is tiny, but fierce. Without a moment of hesitation she replies, “Anyone who needs it, I just love people and I want the best for them.” Gayla glows when she talks about HAP as if it were her own biological child. “I cannot imagine my life without HAP and from my first breath I knew that this was my mission.” She goes on to quote Isaiah 6:8, “Here am I. Send me.” With a confident nod, “This is my life verse.”
Swirling the last little bit of belgian waffle in syrup on her plate she begins to share about Mike Pearce, Minister of Missions at First Baptist Church, who has been an inspiration to her during her 20 years with HAP. “He has been a mentor to me and for that I am grateful.” She shares that he will be retiring soon and frowns at the thought, “I am going to miss him a lot!” She adds that her board has been a wonderful blessing to her as they have been extremely supportive to her over the years.
Wonder Woman she is not, but this woman is a wonder and in my opinion, she deserves a cape. It is clear that she is walking in her purpose for those she meets and ministers to. Find out for yourself when you schedule a tour at any one of her facilities.
If your church would like to partner with HAP or if you would like to volunteer, please visit: www.huntsvilleassitanceprogram.org
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