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Love at First Sight - Miss Jeannie“Miss Jeannie” adorns the cover of a book I recently finished editing: Love at First Light, the Story of a Homeless Shelter for Women and Children. Psychologist and writer Ellen Dossett is the author of this history of a Birmingham, Alabama homeless shelter.

First light began serving Birmingham’s inner city population in the early 1980s, when the First Presbyterian Church provided pallets for 12 women in its dank basement. It now owns a renovated downtown hotel and is able to host more than 60 women and children. Thousands of volunteers from all over the Birmingham community help make this an extraordinary shelter–and one that serves as a model for others.

As entertaining as it is enlightening (it’s richly illustrated with photographs by Wynter Byrd), Love at First Light tells most of its story in the actual voices of the women currently staying at First Light (like Miss Jeannie, above), along with observations from the shelter’s dedicated staff, and members of the First Presbyterian Church who helped make the shelter a reality.

Ellen Dossett has complied and written a fascinating history, and it was a pleasure working with her.

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