LaGRANGE — Almost two years after Jessica David took the helm of the Emmaus Center at 321 Greenville St., the executive director abruptly resigned from her position in a letter to the board of directors.
David sent the letter to the board earlier this week.
“I don’t need an organization to follow what God has laid on my heart to care about,” David told the LaGrange Daily News in a written statement. “The homeless will always be my beloved people group that I’m called to serve in the name of Jesus. I asked for help, built a new board (of directors), and they kicked me out … because I needed help. They (board members) are critical of me trying to do too much. I’ve repaid the quick and convenient expenses they didn’t think should have been spent, such as for drinks, quick lunches and for teams working off site.”
The president of the Emmaus Center board of directors, Denná Muncy, confirmed David’s resignation to the LaGrange Daily News on Friday morning.
Muncy said the board, minus David, met to discuss the future of the Emmaus Center on Aug. 5. They also discussed David remaining as head of the organization.
According to Muncy, at that meeting the majority of board members voted “no confidence” in David as executive director. David would have been asked to resign by the board in person during an emergency meeting on Friday. Instead, Muncy received David’s resignation letter a few days before that meeting.
Shirley Andrews, David’s mother and one of the founding members of the Emmaus Shelter, now known as the Emmaus Center, is also on the board of directors. She was not present for the vote but was at the meeting on Friday.
Andrews did not know removing David as executive director was going to be discussed on Aug. 5 or that the board took a vote, she stated.
Andrews brought David in as the executive director, along with the board members at that time, in August 2014. David was already volunteering with the Emmaus Shelter before taking the position.
The Emmaus Day Center for women started in Troup County in late 2008 under the direction of Kay Elam and Andrews. The center was founded as a way to reduce women’s homelessness in the community. Women could eat lunch, shower and do laundry at the building, but when the shelter closed at the end of the day, some women had nowhere to go.
The idea for a permanent shelter soon followed. Elam, Andrews and David opened the Emmaus Shelter in February 2009.
When Elam retired in August 2014, David took over as executive director. She expanded the organization’s mission to include a shelter for men, one for families and a warming center during the harsh winter temperatures.
“Two years ago, when she (David) came on as an administrator, the center was about to fold,” Andrews said. “She came on and asked the Callaway Foundation for money to help us keep going. … Callaway folks came over and granted us funds. … The spirit is she kept us going for two more years and it’s going to be tough now that our mission has broadened out. We appreciate Jessica’s passion and her desire to help the homeless. It’s bigger than anyone can ever really measure.”
David did not reveal what her next steps will be, but said she is not worried about the future.
“The new board is passionate about keeping Emmaus going without its founders. God is in charge. God’s not surprised. He’s not having an emergency session. He knows the plans he has (for me),” she wrote. “I just need to cooperate and stay faithful. We will keep our hope in faith. … I tried to do too much for too many people and couldn’t pull it all off. This is going to be a great testimony one day.”
A new board of directors for the Emmaus Center was put into place within the last few months. The LaGrange Daily News asked board members for further comment on David’s resignation. They stated there will be a formal statement made next week.
Muncy also said this year’s Miss Emma’s Ice Cream Crankin’ contest has been canceled for now.
The Emmaus Day Center on Greenville Street remains open.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.