Alabama Bright Light Bryan Kelly found common ground in Montgomery

Alabama Bright Light Bryan Kelly found common ground in Montgomery
Common Ground Montgomery focuses on mentoring children in the Washington Park community over the long term to help pave the way for their success in life. (Karim Shamshi-Basha)
Students embrace the leader of Common Ground Montgomery, Bryan Kelly. (Karim Shamshi-Basha)

It is easy to see how much the children embraced by Common Ground Montgomery love its leader, Bryan Kelly. Just ask them to do a group hug for a picture, and they will practically climb all over him.

Common Ground Montgomery operates with the following mission: to create a place of safety, love, grace, structure and discipline for the children of under-resourced communities. And to create a network of community development partners focused on revitalizing Washington Park and beyond.

Kelly and his wife, Delta, founded the nonprofit and lived there with their four children for 12 years. They believe they have been called to become part of and to transform the Washington Park community of Montgomery.

Common Ground Montgomery ABL from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Common Ground Montgomery is focused on redeveloping an entire community. The things we do in this neighborhood, the Washington Park neighborhood, are done primarily by investing in its youth, and helping the neighborhood raise strong leaders,” Kelly said.

Common Ground Montgomery focuses on youth development and leadership, after-school programs and camps, mentoring, community initiatives, cross-cultural relationships and racial reconciliation. The nonprofit also has helped with a housing renovation and adult financial literacy.

“We focus on mentoring kids and walking with them over a long period of time in a way that helps them to beat the odds, and to become leaders in our community and our neighborhood,” Kelly said.

Common Ground Montgomery’s most recent community initiatives are to provide food, a clothes closet, showers and clothes washing capabilities to families and individuals in need of such services.

“Right now, we serve children as early as pre-K up to people in their early 20s,” Kelly said. “I’ve been doing this for 13 years with my family and lived in the neighborhood for 12. Living in the neighborhood for so long, it’s had a profound impact on all of us. It has made me so much more aware of the problems. It affects my thinking way differently when you sit with people who experience things differently than you do.”

The vision statement for Common Ground tells most of the story:

Our Vision is to see a renovated, thriving community in Washington Park that has strong, godly leadership, intact two-parent families, cares for the underprivileged, poor and marginalized, and becomes an incubator for Gospel-created, cross-cultural relationships that transform Montgomery and beyond.

For Kelly, helping with Common Ground Montgomery has affected him in a bigger way than he ever anticipated. “This shapes the way I live my life, like being around people who didn’t grow up like I did, or experienced life like I have. This neighborhood has been a gift to my family and me,” Kelly said.

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