Our story

We exist to create a world

where no one is invisible. 

The seeds of Love Beyond Walls were sown in 2004. One morning, my beautiful wife Cecilia and I gathered two trash bags filled with clothes and made our way to the streets of downtown Atlanta. Our journey took us to Auburn Avenue where we encountered a woman who was homeless. Cecilia asked her if she knew anyone who needed clothes or shoes. Her response was immediate. “Of course, I need some right now!” We handed her our two bags, and she started rummaging through them. Within seconds, she paused, as if she had hit the jackpot. Two pairs of black shoes caught her attention and she laid them aside. Turning back to us, she said, “I just prayed for a pair of shoes last night, and God answered.’ It’s hard to describe what that moment did for us. On our ride home, we started talking about what it might look like to create an organization that helped individuals like our new friend who needed shoes. We discussed ways we could mobilize others to join us in moving past the walls that divide people and taking love to people in creative ways. This is where the phrase Love Beyond Walls was formed. From that time, Cecilia and I have been passionate about working in the trenches with the desire to love people where they are at.

In 2013, I (Terence) formalized the concept of Love Beyond Walls as more than just an idea by incorporating it as a nonprofit, even living as a person experiencing homelessness in the heart of the City of Atlanta. After a conversation with my family, I took to the streets and embarked on life as a homeless person for one month. During this season, I experienced a taste of what it was like to be put out of shelters, sleep under bridges, eat handouts, beg for money, be put out restaurants, and remain awake for hours in discomfort. While some criticized my decision, I felt it was critical to walk in the shoes of the people Love Beyond Walls would serve.

Since this point, Love Beyond Walls has focused on raising awareness of the realities and needs of those experiencing lack and vulnerability. And as we have shared the stories of those in need, this has become a way of mobilizing people to take part in these stories. We continually raise awareness and mobilize an army of people who dare to get involved in breaking down barriers and dreaming up new solutions. Since its origin, Love Beyond Walls has helped thousands of people serve those that are vulnerable and forgotten. Love Beyond Walls is a 501(c)(3) organization recognized by the federal government.

“We continually raise awareness and mobilize an army of people.”

Are you, or is someone you know, facing homelessness?

Our Team

Together we can do the impossible. 

Terence Lester

Terence Lester is a speaker, activist, author, and thought leader in the realm of systemic poverty. He’s known for nationwide campaigns that bring awareness to issues surrounding homelessness, poverty, and economic inequality.

His awareness campaigns have been featured on MLK50, CNN, Good Morning America, TVONE, Creative Mornings, USA Today, NBC, AJC, Black Enterprise, Rolling Out, Upworthy, and have been viewed by millions of people worldwide.

In 2018, Terence led the March Against Poverty as he walked from Atlanta to Memphis (386 miles). He finished the march and spoke at the historic Lorraine Motel for the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s assassination.

He has spoken on the same platform as other civil rights activists such as: Bernice King, Roland Martin, Gina Belafonte, Michael Eric Dyson, Tamika D. Mallory, and many others. Terence’s unique approach combines storytelling and digital media to help illustrate social justice issues with practical approaches to solving these ailments.

In 2013, Terence founded the non-profit, Love Beyond Walls, and has helped hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty rebuild their lives. In 2019, Terence launched the first museum in the U.S. that represents homelessness out of a shipping container called, Dignity Museum.

Terence has written four books and his new book, “I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes To Invisible People” released August 13, 2019 with InterVarsity Press. He also holds four degrees and is working towards his PhD at Union Institute & University in Public Policy & Social Change.

He is happily married to his best friend, Cecilia Lester and they have two amazing children, Zion Joy and Terence II.

Cecilia Lester

Cecilia Lester is wife to Terence and mother of Zion and Terence II. Love Beyond Walls would not have been possible without the support, organization, and care that Cecilia has contributed.

She currently serves as the Co-Starter & Organizer for Love Beyond Walls. She is known for putting details together and her amazing planning skills. Cecilia volunteers and serves the community in her spare time as well.

Melanie Wittenberg

With over 7 years of experience in professional office executive assistant positions and a track record of strong performance in high-volume, high-pressure environments, Melanie skillfully manages administrative duties and client relations for her colleagues.

As Executive Assistant, she ensures the smooth operation of those she supports by helping with office management and efficient handling of inquiries.

In her free time, Melanie loves playing tennis or going for a long run. She loves cheering on The University of Alabama in any sport setting as well as cheering for the Cleveland Browns. She is passionate about helping others, especially children and you can find her volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta. Melanie recently joined the Love Beyond Walls team as the administrative assistant.

Other members

Board of Directors

  • David Asbury, CEO of Northwestern Benefit, Board Member
  • Harvey Strickland, US Postal Service, Board Member
  • Chuck Davis, Georgia Power, Board Member
  • Cecilia Lester, Board Member
  • Terence Lester, Board Member

Advisors

  • Pete Westermann, Entrepreneur
  • Jennifer Hudson, Fierce Consulting Group
  • Brian Bloye, West Ridge Church
  • Ralph Watkins, Wheat Street Baptist Church
  • Traymone Deadwyler, Think For Good

Partners & Contributors

  • DINAO
  • Bomb Moms
  • Toxic Kisses
  • Elizabeth Baptist Church Youth Department
  • Bruster’s
  • Subway
  • West Ridge Church
  • Relevant Church
  • Day1 Radio
  • Life Revolution Church
  • FCA (Paulding County High School)
  • Mosaic Church
  • Essence Church
  • Midtown Bridge Church
  • Dinner w/ Friends
  • Church Street Elementary School
  • Riverdale Elementary School
  • Mt. Zion Primary School
  • Fountain Elementary School
  • E. J. Swint Elementary School
  • Harmony Leland Elementary School
  • Contender’s Church
  • RockBridge Church
  • Graystone Church
  • Wadsworth Magnet for High Achievers
  • Tri-Cities High School
  • SG3 Media
  • Sheltering Arms (Welcome All location)
  • Fork Yeah ATL
  • Mission MAD (Kentucky)
  • Warehouse of Hope
  • RacTrac
  • Faith India Ministries
  • Grady High School
  • Soles 4 Souls
  • Dream, Live, Learn
  • LEGGOLAND
  • Nautica, Tanger Outlet
  • Tees & Quotes
  • Kangker
  • Tae’s Place Hair Salon
  • Option 13
  • Salvation Army
  • That Place Atlanta
  • Wheat Street Baptist Church
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Atlanta Airport Marriott
  • Embassy Church International
  • Urban League of Greater Atlanta
  • Central Baptist Church
  • Praise Academy
  • Bank of America
  • Woodward Academy
  • AKA Sorority (Upsilon Chapter)
  • Jiffy Lube
  • Pulse Church
  • Cozzee
  • Wells Fago
  • Helping Mamas
  • College Park Elementary School
  • Revolution Church
  • ATL 1×1
  • Reveal Magazine U.S.
  • United Way
  • Ga Tech
  • Voya Investments
  • Awesome Foundation (Atlanta Chapter)
  • The FIIIX
  • ABL Radio
  • It’s Just A Dream Inc.
  • Hope Church
  • The Purple Phoenix Project, Inc.
  • NIKE
  • Edible Arrangements (Camp Creek)
  • Liberty Tax (Old National)
  • Clip Appeal
  • Sandtown Middle School
  • Paulding County High School
  • Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Fulton County Government
  • Dunville Christian Church
  • Lowe’s (Camp Creek Parkway)
  • Genesis Church (Orlando Florida)
  • Sistas Inspiring Sistas
  • SCLC Organization
  • Woodruff Library
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Tyler Perry Studios
  • Zify.com
  • Greenforrest Baptist Church
  • Nissan South
  • Praise In The Park
  • Covered Bridge Church
  • North Metro Church
  • Love Joy High School
  • Kindezi School (both locations)
  • Tri-Cities High School
  • United Way (Gwinnett Chapter)
  • Humble Treasures
  • Northwestern Benefit
  • LeCrew, LLC
  • Wheat Street Baptist Church
  • On Mission Church

Our Work

We are dreamers of solutions.

Dignity Museum

The Dignity Museum shares the stories of the forgotten.

Love Sinks In

We are sharing health through sanitation for people experiencing homelessness.

Get Involved

We believe that real change happens through people like you giving time, resources, and talents.

Join Our Newsletter

 OUR STORY 

We are committed to the people that the world passes by each day. We believe the people struggling with poverty have lives and stories that are just as valuable as ours.

 OUR WORK 

As an organization that focuses on building people up, we ask that you consider joining our team by volunteering and sharing your gifts with others.

GET EDUCATED

Fear has no place in love. We strive to view everyone as an individual with a hopeful, better future. All humans are worthy of dignity and we desire to show the same unconditional love to each one of them.

DONATE

Everything we do is because of generous donors that see value in our impact. We ask you to consider giving to our organization. All financial gifts will be used to continue to do work that reaches people where they are and share their stories To give, click here.