Skip to main content

Love Beyond Walls is a movement birthed out of the hope that love is greater than walls.

Walls exist more than ever in our current society. We looked around and saw a nation-building higher and higher barriers between one another. These walls separated people people from each other. We are an organization that is unafraid to address these barriers and are committed to breaking them down. 

We believe in action over words and making service a part of our daily lives. One of the most distinguishable characteristics of our organization is our focus on telling the stories of the unseen and building relationships with people to walk with them out of poverty and homelessness. We are committed to the people that the world passes by because we believe the people struggling with poverty and sleeping on the streets have lives and stories that are just as valuable as ours.

Another major distinguisher to our organization is simplicity in our response to helping people. We don’t believe that fear has a place to stop us from loving someone. We strive to view everyone as an individual with a story and a hopeful, better future. Humans are humans and we desire to show the same unconditional love to each of them. 

Our vision is to create a world where no one is invisible!

We do that through our five-part process:

  • Discern Needs 
  • Imagine Solutions
  • Collaborate to Provide
  • Move to Action
  • Impact the Future
LBW small heart

Our Beginning Story

In 2004, Terence and Cecilia gathered two trash bags filled with clothes and walked through the streets of downtown Atlanta.

On Auburn Ave, Terence and Cecilia encountered a homeless woman.

“Do you know anyone who needs clothes or shoes?” Cecelia asked.

The lady immediately responded, “Of course, I need some right now!”

When this warm-hearted lady rummaged through the two bags, she came across a pair of black shoes and started jumping up and down with excitement. “I just prayed for a pair of shoes last night, and God answered.”

Terence and Cecilia looked at each other, and in that moment—the concept of “Love Beyond Walls” was born. On the ride home, they discussed ways to mobilize others to join them in moving past the walls that divide people and to take love to people in creative ways. That day, they both became compassionate about work in the trenches and the desire to love people where they were.

In 2013, Terence formalized the concept of Love Beyond Walls as more than just an idea by incorporating it as a nonprofit and living as a person experiencing homelessness in the heart of the City of Atlanta.

He was put out of shelters, slept under bridges, ate handouts, was put out of restaurants, stayed up countless days, and experienced every aspect of homelessness first-hand.

He wanted to wear the shoes of the people the organization serves. Since then the organization has focused on raising awareness of the realities and needs of those experiencing lack and vulnerability and using that vehicle to mobilize people to participate in those 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.

At Love Beyond Walls, Empathy Drives Us.

We stand in proximity to those without homes or those made invisible by society. Through the power of community, we offer love, dignity, and hope. Each person involved in our work is committed to breaking down barriers and building longer tables for those who are excluded.

Our Team

Together we can do the impossible. 

Terence Lester

Dr. Terence Lester is a storyteller, public scholar, speaker, community activist, and author who is the Founder and Executive Director of Love Beyond Walls, a nonprofit organization focused on raising poverty and homelessness awareness and community mobilization. He received his PhD with a concentration in Public Policy and Social Change from Union Institute and University. His campaigns on behalf of the poor, have been featured in USA Today, CNN, Black Enterprise, Essence, and Reader's Digest. They have been viewed by millions of people globally on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS News, NBC, Upworthy, and "The Bright Side" with Katie Couric. He was named by Coca-Cola as one of their History Shakers. His forthcoming book with InterVarsity Press is set to release Spring of 2025, tentatively entitled, “From Dropout to Doctorate: What it Takes to Break the Chains of Systemic Injustice.” He and his wife, Cecilia, along with their family, live in Atlanta.

Cecilia Lester

Cecilia Lester currently serves as the Co-Founder & Project Manager for Love Beyond Walls. Known for her dedication to service, Cecilia volunteers extensively and is a compassionate advocate for women experiencing homelessness and young girls in need. Her deep empathy and commitment to empowering others are evident in every project she undertakes. Not only does she manage projects, but she also uses her exceptional planning skills to ensure the mission’s impact comes to life. Her unwavering belief in the dignity and worth of every individual drives her to create safe, supportive environments where they can find hope and begin to rebuild their lives. Cecilia is a proud wife and committed mother to Zion and Terence II, balancing her family life with her passion for service.

Melanie Wittenberg

With over 9 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 the Executive Assistant and Community Leader at Love Beyond Walls, she ensures the smooth operation of the organization by efficiently handling office management and inquiries. In her free time, Melanie enjoys playing tennis and going for long runs. She is an enthusiastic supporter of The University of Alabama in any sport setting and a dedicated fan of the Cleveland Browns. Passionate about helping others, especially children, Melanie volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta, where her dedication to service shines brightly.

Ali Brathwaite

As a producer of films and a photographer for Love Beyond Walls, Ali captures the essence of the community and documents the organization’s work. He ensures that the voices of those who are unhoused and impoverished have a platform to share their stories with dignity. He is a dedicated filmmaker with 15 years of experience. His diverse work includes feature films, documentaries, classroom and workshop videos, and event videography. Ali’s extensive experience in the industry, coupled with his commitment to staying updated with the latest advancements in audio and visual equipment, makes him an invaluable asset to any team he’s on. Ali’s professional journey has led him to collaborate with a host of notable personalities, including Judge Mathis, Da Brat, Dr. Jeff Gardere, Malik Yoba, Anthony Hamilton, Rhyme Fest, Angie Stone, Anthony David, and Chad Coleman. These high-profile collaborations are a testament to his credibility and the quality of his work, making him a trusted choice for potential employers or collaborators.

Board of Directors

  • Harvey Strickland, US Postal Service, Board Chair
  • Stephan Smith, Board Member
  • Tiajuana Burns, Hospitality Industry, Board Member
  • Chuck Davis, Georgia Power, Board Member
  • Cecilia Lester, Board Member
  • Terence Lester, Board Member

Advisors

  • Pamela Hill-Wright
  • Lecrae Moore
  • Takia Lamb
  • Monica DeCristina
  • Mark DeCristina 
  • Jennifer Hudson 
  • Tedashii Anderson 
  • Jeff Hilmire 
  • Alaree Malone 
  • Pete Westermann
  • Brian O’Neil 
  • Attorney Robyn Miller 
  • Attorney LaDawn Jones

Partners & Contributors

  • The King Center
  • Dagger
  • Dragon Army
  • ButterATL
  • Reach Records
  • Southwest Airlines
  • College Park Skyhawks 
  • Kennesaw State University 
  • Georgia Tech
  • The Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • InterVarsity Press
  • Landmark Christian Academy 
  • Open Table Nashville
  • Alabama Power
  • Johnson & Johnson 
  • Plywood People
  • NFL Foundation
  • Bank of America
  • Fortune Magazine 
  • Porsche 
  • Brawny Paper towels 
  • See Beautiful 
  • Kids Boost
  • The City of Atlanta 
  • The City of College Park
  • College Park Housing Authority
  • The Sketch Effect
  • 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
  • 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
  • Green Forrest Baptist Church
  • Nissan South
  • Praise In The Park
  • Covered Bridge Church
  • 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
  • North Metro Church
  • Love Joy High School
  • Kindezi School (both locations)
  • Tri-Cities High School
  • United Way (Gwinnett Chapter)
  • Humble Treasures
  • Northwestern Benefit
  • Wheat Street Baptist Church
  • On Mission Church

We continually raise awareness and mobilize an army of people to take love into places where it doesn’t exist.

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.

Volunteer

Volunteering is truly about one life impacting another. There are so many ways to volunteer your time, gifts, and talents to help us serve communities nationally and locally.

Learn

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.

Need Help? Find resources right around you.