As the oldest of three children and the oldest grandchild in her extended family, Debora J. Hudson long has desired to help others.
“I’ve always had a heart to serve, even as a child,” says Hudson, 62.
Hudson began employment with the Cumberland County, North Carolina, school system in 1988 as a bus driver, then became a teacher’s assistant for special needs students at Lillian Black Elementary School, the same school she attended as a child. She later trained as a reading specialist. Before retiring in 2011, she had filled the role as parent facilitator, acting as the liaison for parent and community interaction and involvement.
In 2011, Hudson discovered a new purpose.
With a love for law enforcement, Hudson had majored in criminal justice at Fayetteville State University and Fayetteville Technical School. The Spring Lake Police Department offered Hudson the position of office assistant in the detective division. In 2015, she received a promotion to her current position as executive assistant to the chief of police in the city of 11,660.
For years, Hudson carried a desire to open a shelter for those in need. That desire increased each time she witnessed victims of domestic violence come through the police station. At times, she and co-workers collected money to help a victim. Often she gave whatever amount needed to be spent to ensure someone had shelter for the night.
Eventually, the vision for Kinsey House came about when Raleigh resident Alan Kinsey donated his vacant boyhood home to help Hudson fulfill her dream.
“God has been so good and so faithful,” Hudson says. “I know that this is nothing but God, because everything is just falling into place.”
Although the shelter isn’t open yet, services nevertheless are being provided.
“We’re helping people,” says Hudson. “We offer classes and workshops, clothes, and help with hotels and other expenses.”
Hudson says local donations, fundraisers, and small grants finance the project. Plus a lot of out-of-pocket donations on her part.
Hudson also helped initiate a Pastors on Patrol project.
When Chief Dysoaneik E. Spellman took office earlier this year, Hudson quickly approached him with the idea of pastors riding with police officers to answer calls.
“Law enforcement has had such a bad rap lately, having a pastor with the officer provides a buffer,” Hudson says. She notes it also provides more insight to the other side of law enforcement for the pastors.
“The program was designed to help build relationships with the faith-based leaders in the community,” Spellman says. “Pastors could see firsthand what the police encounter, and the church has resources not available to the police.”
“If there’s a need in the home, churches can provide snack packs of food for the children or if hygiene items are needed, they can provide those,” Hudson says. “The pastors and law enforcement officers work closely together to make sure that when they leave that call, everything is taken care of.”
Hudson attends Living Water Assembly of God, where Steve N. Morris is pastor. Morris, 51, volunteers with Pastors on Patrol.
“Chief Spellman wants the pastor to bridge the gap between people in the community and the police,” Morris says. “He wants to bring faith back into the community by giving the pastors an opportunity to see where to help people who are hurting.”
Living Water recently partnered with Kinsey House and Hudson to provide “Laundry Love Day” for the Spring Lake community. Hudson called it a “laundry café,” where customers had their washing and drying costs covered.
“We offered coffee and snacks, met them where they were, and just let them know we cared,” Hudson says Morris says his wife, Joy, is a big fan of Hudson.
“It was overwhelming to watch people find out that we were covering the laundry expense,” says Joy, 43. “Some of the people opened up and started telling us their life stories.”
“Spring Lake is a small close-knit community, and the need is so great,” Hudson says. “I just want to give back to this community and help people to know they are somebody and they can rise above their situation.”