The Link’s Annual Event an Emotional, Uplifting Affair

Sharon Schuler Kreps

Growth takes on many different forms. For a life transforming organization like us, we seek to see a change of heart, a renewal of the mind and ultimately new actions. Because of the generosity of so many incredible donors, we have seen growth in our neighbors all across the county; from the youngest to the oldest.” 
Dawn Owens, The Link of Cullman County founder

CULLMAN – The Link of Cullman County's annual event and auction, GROW 2016, took place on Tuesday night, March 15, at Loft212. This year's event included a review of 2015, recognition of the Link’s 2015 Dream Big award winners, a message from Shane Quick of Premier Productions and a silent auction to raise funds for all the GROWTH happening at The Link.

“In 2014 we began a new award for The Link of Cullman County where we honor two sets of people within our community that are willing to “dream big” and partner with us for God and through the vision we lay on our hearts to accomplish,” said Julie Hall, director of neighbor relations. “The first is a community partner, the second is a neighbor; someone who has come to us in crisis, has set a dream and is now well on their way to accomplishing that.”

The Dream Big Community Partner award was given to Stephen Skinner, along with Sherry Henry, who is one of The Link’s “neighbors” Skinner has employed at his storage facility business for over a year.

Neighbors are those whom The Link has reached through ministry at the Cullman Child Development Center (CCDC), by going into the elementary and high schools and those who have walked through the doors at The Link.

The Dream Big Neighbor award was presented to Peggy Thornton, who has regained her life with the help of The Link. Once homeless, Peggy has served time in jail and gone through rehab.

Once she found The Link, she earned a certificate from its first Jobs for Life Class, took parenting and many other classes, worked several part-time jobs and attends church on a regular basis. She was able to get her children back and has relationships with her family.

Shane Quick of Premier Productions was the night’s guest speaker. Quick is an inspiration and member of our local community. He has personally experienced how God can plant seeds within us and help make them grow beyond our wildest dreams.

“I’m not supposed to be here tonight,” Quick began. “I, like a lot of people who go to The Link, came from a broken home. I am the only member of my family that has not been addicted to drugs. Mental abuse, physical abuse and just about anything you can think of happened in my home in Hanceville, Alabama. I had a plan to take my own life; I literally saw no hope for the future. I was not supposed to be here tonight, but God put a very specific thing in my life to change it. People; throughout my life, one by one, God put people in my life at the right time, just in the nick of time.

“You don’t know how many people come into your program and it’s their last straw, it’s the last thing they have left,” Quick said, addressing The Link staff. “That is what God did, one by one. Isaiah 52:7 says, ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring the Good News’, and that is what you guys do.”

After Shane’s inspirational story, Dawn Owens, founder and executive director of The Link, addressed the crowd. She was extremely thankful for everyone’s help in the past and she shared her vision for the future.

“Growth takes on many different forms,” she explained. “For a life transforming organization like us, we seek to see a change of heart, a renewal of the mind and ultimately new actions. Because of the generosity of so many incredible donors, we have seen growth in our neighbors all across the county, from the youngest to the oldest. Thank you for partnering with is in 2015,” she added. “Your generosity and support are making an eternal difference in the lives of so many neighbors in our community. We hope you will continue to partner with us in 2016 so that together we can see God continue to GROW us individually and corporately.”

The night was filled with emotion, and lots of happy tears were shed as people listened to the success stories of The Link’s neighbors.

“Every time there's a meeting, an event, anything at all…I am completely blown away by what God is doing through this ministry,” said guest Stacie Carter. “Loved hearing personal testimonies of lives transformed, watching the graduates receive life degrees, hearing Shane Quick's amazing talk, seeing the growth over the last few years. I loved it.”

Those who feel called to help or know someone who needs help are encouraged to visit The Link at 1101 Third Ave. SE or reach them by phone at 256-775-0028, email at or online at

For helpful information that is updated frequently, follow The Link on Facebook at


Photo shows Dawn Owens, Julie Hall, Stephen Skinner and Sherry Henry.