How I Found My Second Family 5,000 Miles Away

It was one of those sad days that I had as a freshman at Emory (and unfortunately I had a lot them) when all I wanted was to go back home to Greece. All I could think about that morning as I walked to my class was my mom and how I wished that I could be a kid again and let her take care of me. I was not surprised by the beautiful flowers that bloom in the spring, or by the morning breeze. I desperately looked for something to remind me of home, something to grasp upon and never let go.

And that “something” appeared, unfolding like a miracle in front of me. Two strollers filled with beautiful babies were enough to put a smile on my face. I wanted to run up to them and feel the joy of holding one. But I couldn’t find the strength or courage to go up to the two women who were pushing the strollers and ask. Instead, I watched them walk away until they disappeared.

I kept asking myself why? Why couldn’t I do something as simple as go talk to them? It went on for a week. I would see them, smile, almost say something but then hesitate and watch them walk away. The more I observed them, the more I thought about them. I drew the conclusion that they were orphans since they were all so different and could not be children of either of the women. After this realization, I went to the Emory volunteer office and asked about opportunities with infants but they had no information for me. I wondered how they couldn’t know the two women taking orphan babies on walks around campus. I almost gave up my search. However, when I am passionate about something (I have always been passionate about kids), there is a power inside me that won’t let me give up.

So, it was one of those sad days when I walked up to the two women and asked to volunteer. To my surprise they told me that the babies are not orphans. They attend the Glenn School right next to Emory’s campus. As I expressed my interest and passion to help in any way, they got me in contact with Rev. Susan. This was how my journey at Glenn began. Rev. Susan proposed that I help in the nursery every Sunday at the beginning of my sophomore year. When I found out that I could not legally work as an International student in the USA, I decided to volunteer. All I wanted was to be surrounded by babies, to give and take love so I could console my feelings of loneliness. I was looking for a family and little did I know that I was about to find one.

When I walked in to the nursery on my first Sunday at Glenn, I sat in the middle of the colorful rug and looked around at Adrielle and Natalie. I slowly started to feel more comfortable as the days went by, and even though at first I had not formed any strong bonds with anyone in the nursery, every Sunday morning I felt at peace. There was something about the room, the nursery rhymes and holding babies that made me forget that I was far away from home. It became my favorite day of the week. I have such special memories from the nursery getting to know Adrielle, Natalie, and Ana. Together we shared precious moments: playing with balls with Geoffrey, watching Geoffrey and Elizabeth graduate to the toddler room, saying goodbye to Stella who recently moved, and witnessing Bess’s first steps.

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I came to love all the babies in the nursery as if they were my siblings. One Sunday, I attended the eleven o’clock service for Bess’s baptism. I have known Bess since she was a newborn and the bond I have with her and her sisters is unbreakable. I cannot believe how many things I have learned from the babies, toddlers, and now older children, since I started coming on Wednesdays nights, too, and at the same time how many things I have taught them. It’s funny how from making up fairytales to narrate to children you end up writing your own book, which I did this summer.

It was one of those sad days that I had as a freshman that led to the best decision of my college life: to speak to the women with the strollers. Volunteering at Glenn has been an incredible journey filled with laughs, cries, dirty diapers, walking babies, choreographies to church songs, dancing, playing, reading, feeding, rocking to sleep, potty training and sharing my worries, my happiness, my successes, and my college life with the Glenn community.

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This May I am graduating. I cannot imagine my weekends without the nursery and the babies. Even though I am devastated for the closure of this chapter of my life, the Glenn nursery has given me the strength to follow my dreams and passions and to allow myself to find love 5,000 miles away from home.

My friendships and all the babies gave me the strength every time that I had to leave home in Athens and return to Atlanta. I will always know that there is someone waiting for me in Atlanta: it’s Glenn, my church, my friends, my second family!

Elena Kefalogianni


How did you find your way to Glenn? Do you have an interesting, funny, or round-a-bout way you discovered this community of faith?

This spring, we will begin a new series titled "Finding Our Way: Stories of Discovering Glenn". And we want to know your story! Tell us how you came to call Glenn home.

Send your story to Sara Logeman.