Trust First by Bruce Deel [Book Summary – Review]


How can the lives of human beings in crisis societies be contributed as social workers, activists, and pastors?

It was this fundamental question addressed in numerous academic texts and bona fide policy documents. However, there are far fewer accounts of human beings who have worked in the area and are ready to share their experience, warts, and everything.

Trust First section comes into play here. Developed by Pastor Bruce Deel through years of trial and error his accomplished NGO City of Shelter In the process, he won the “messiah complex” and found out to change his mindset rather than trying to switch his society.

Faced with his narrow-minded views on poverty and penance, Deel embraced radical approaches to social justice and spread his unconditional trust and admission to the individuals he worked with. More than 20 years later, the City of Refuge has assisted thousands of human-beings to transform their lives by providing core elements such as stable housing, good health care, and education programs.


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Chapter 1 – It was engaging in a gunfight that made Deel understand that reassuring human-beings is even more significant than food.


One day in 1997, the person who came to the parking lot of a liquor store in the Westside neighborhood of Atlanta was Pastor Bruce Deel, with bright eyes and optimism, and pots of delicious chili pepper to serve the people living there. By him, a six-month priesthood had just begun and he had no opinion of what the society looked like – except that many individuals lived below the poverty line. It was far from the rich suburbs where he usually worked.

By him and a volunteer, distributing portions of food into people’s bowls was begun. Everything appeared to be going well when Deel abruptly heard a commotion. Looking up, he saw a gun pulled by a woman at a man who abused her.

Deel fought in his shock and fear and carefully intervened. He met the woman’s gaze, put his hand on her, and asked kindly, “You don’t desire that do you?” She slowly dropped the gun and went away. The situation has been neutralized.

It was felt by Deel, totally shaken. By him, it was expected to have problems such as running out of cheese and not having to intervene in armed conflicts. Abruptly, his supplement was too stingy. What’s the use of a few bowls of pepper in a society dealing with such levels of violence and deprivation? And what could have been done by a pure white man from Virginia to assist the largely African American society with very distinct experiences from himself?



By him, the woman with the gun was remembered. He was only able to contribute to the situation by trusting her and taking on the best of her intent. Admitting her gap to follow her best instincts assisted her to relax, lower her gun, and walk away. Trust had made her show she didn’t desire to pull the trigger.

A few days later, who returned to the area was Deel, this time with a baked potato and lemonade. That anybody wasn’t there was that shocked to see by him – the streets were deserted. By him, it was asked by a passerby where everyone was and found out that the pastor would assume he would never return after the violence that happened the previous week. It was frightened by many philanthropists before him after experiencing the actuality of the neighborhood.

By Deel, it was looked into the man’s eyes and said prophecy words: “We are going back.” Surely, he’s still there more than 20 years later. Shelter City was born from that fight in the parking lot.


Chapter 2 – It was work at Westside that pushed Pastor Deel to switch his mind about poverty.


Before arriving at Westside, it was assumed by Deel that if human-beings suffer from social problems such as poverty and alcoholism, it is part of their interests. After all, no one was pushed to drink alcoholics or spend the money on junk food rather than on education.

It was working with Westside congregations that changed his point of view. These people were noticed to suffer from chronic occasion injustice, because of the inborn possibilities piled up against them. The harmful choices they made did not cause the circumstance – a fortiori, their decision was strained by their distorted conditions.

First of all, they grew up in a neighborhood with a long date of poorness and institutional omission. In the 1960s and ’70s, a major urban change took place as white families fled urban quarters for the suburbs. By middle-class African American families, later houses in the old white neighborhoods were bought. Unluckily, homes they left behind in the former black fields on the West Side were often purchased by investors and rented to transitional renters or even abandoned. The neighborhood became in need of care and the strong social structure began to wear off.



Today, those who live below the federal poverty line are 40 percent of families on the West Coast. Often it was children who witnessed high levels of violence and children are prevented access to great public education and health facilities. In the 1980s the field was hit by stone cocaine, heroin, and then the “Drug War”. These oppressions made things worse, putting human-beings in prison with lengthy sentences instead of funding rehabilitation and encouraging families.

What was noticed by Pastor Deel was that compared to the people he worked with; the world offered him occasions on the silver platter from the moment he was born. Although he didn’t grow up rich, he was well educated and always ate adequately. Above all, he was surrounded by human-beings with high expectations for his vita. By him, it was understood that he could make good selections, not because he had an excellent moral compass, but because it was the simplest course of action accessible to him. If he faced the exact conditions as his congregation, he would possibly make options alike to theirs.

It was this awareness that fundamentally switched his approach to his work at Westside. What, was not adequately, was lecturing on morality and good choices from the podium. It was recognized by Deel that to make a distinction, he had to deal directly with the injustice of opportunity – he would have to change the material conditions of individuals’ lives.


Chapter 3 – It was Deep and his family who abandoned the leafy suburbs behind to fully fulfill their images.


It was Deel and his wife Rhonda who was determined to serve the Westside community. Unluckily, they had no opinion on how to do it. What was miles away from those of their congregations was their lives.

By them, it was understood that if they were serious about learning to identify the human-beings they worked with, stopping by and distributing food from time to time would not be adequate. They had to live in society.

To do this, they would have to stay in an area with high crime rates instead of staying in a beautiful, peaceful suburban home. They would have to replace a large courtyard with a paved parking lot, leaving any area for their children to play. Although it sounded like a great sacrifice, they knew they had no other selection if they desired to make an influence with their work.

So, they moved to an empty floor of the church and gradually turned the dirty, dark space into their home. Even though the transition was difficult, they immediately realized that they had made the correct judgment.

It was their move to Westside that signaled to human-beings that the Deel family was fully devoted. This has influenced their relationships not only with the society they serve but also with possible volunteers. Abruptly, they were overflowing with offers of aid from individuals willing to work on outreach projects. By Deel, a non-governmental organization was established, and gathering money was begun to expand the activities of the church.

By the organization, hosting elaborate dinners were begun at the church, and individuals were asked if they could come for tasty food and cheesecakes donated by a local bakery. These meals not only keep people fed; they also provided a vital integration with homeless community members, students, and the elderly who lived together.



In the sense that realizing how little activities are accessible for children, by Deel, an after-school program was settled – presenting educational entertainment, excursions, and summer camps for a hundred children.

This was kept going by the production of a homeless shelter with very low barriers to entry: if someone could stand up straight and promise not to attack anyone, then they were welcome. Promptly, by 65 men, it had access to a hot meal and a comfortable bed every night.

It turns out that young mothers also desperately needed support while trying to care for their children while fighting poverty, trauma, and addiction. By Deel and his family, presenting temporary housing in the church, and sharing each aspect of family life were begun together.

Although they started as visitors, in the sense that living side by side with the people they serve, who have become a necessary part of the population was Deel and his family.


Chapter 4 – With a sad encounter, Deel was directed to take on the biggest difficulty of his career.


By all of us, situations that take us almost beyond our tolerance have faced and forced us to evaluate our lives.

For Deel, this happened when he had a sad confrontation with a street person named Michael. The person who was a regular tenant in the men’s shelter was Michael, and his attitude was always commendable. However, one night he removed down his pants and asked a team member to apply medicine to his genitals. When the staff denied, Michael split in anger. After he was released from the shelter, he started following Deel and his workers. He got into a furious fight with a staff member and attacked to punch. Even by him, it was threatened to come back and kill Deel’s wife and daughters.

Since the threats made Deel so worried, he called the police who captured Michael. In prison, he was observed by a psychiatrist who discovered that he was suffering from a serious mental disorder. He was finally put in prison.

As Deel was relaxed for the safety of himself and his family, he sensed guilty and shocked by the incident. In his head, he had caused Michael to be taken up by the prison system and could not truly give him the care he required. By Deel, it was comprehended that his ministry was mainly presenting crisis management: short-term solutions that provide some support and temporary relief to desperate people. However, those with chronic challenges – human-beings such as Michael – would have to go further to make a lasting distinction.



Until then, by the church, it was referred to individuals with mental health, alcohol, or housing problems to other services in the town. However, these services were poorly financed and fragmented. Their access was also difficult due to their location in different parts of the city. And many times, by people, filling out surprising forms was compulsory before they could get any backup. To help people tackle these intersecting challenges, it was realized by Deel that people would need a “one-stop-shop” from where they could access housing, work programs, and specialist mental health services all under one roof.

It is to create such a project that will need tremendous property and much more funding than they have ever had. Also, Bruce and Rhonda Deel should have uprooted their lives and began building a novel society from scratch. Fortunately, they were ready for the challenge.


Chapter 5 – It was Hurricane Katrina that ensured a challenge that admitted Sanctuary City to prove themselves.


By Deel, sleeping was tried desperately. In the roughest part of a town envelope by mice the size of cats, the sketch lay between two former gang members who were turned into security guards in a warehouse. Lying there, by him, it was wondered what he was doing to get down on the ground in this circumstance.

By Deel, sleeping in any warehouse had not been. This was the property of his big dream – a one-stop-shop where individuals living on the fringes of the community can access the best potential services in one station.

After months of finishing, by him, a local property owner was convinced to donate $ 1.6 million worth of land to him. It was a great beginning, but still, a huge amount of work had to be done. For one thing, the building was covered in garbage. The warehouse he slept in at night was full of holes and needed consistent attention to fending off the robbers and the aforementioned rats.

Deel would require substantial amounts of cash to turn it into a beautiful sanctuary. However, when he suggested donors with his plan, it was thought that he was crazy. At that point, the nonprofit had become a parent operation that got along as well as possible with irregular donations. Although they created some valuable projects such as schoolchildren, vulnerable mothers, and the homeless, they were all small-scale. Deel’s one-stop-shop plans appeared wildly difficult for donors who advised them to concentrate on doing something well instead of trying to accomplish everything.



At the point where he thought he could never convince them, a tragedy occurred that permitted Shelter City to prove themselves. In September 2005, due to Hurricane Katrina, millions of individuals fled Louisiana and Mississippi with their lives. It was Atlanta, located a few hundred miles away, that became an important center for people seeking refuge.

The City of Asylum has started receiving requests from the government to assist to ensure temporary accommodation for evacuees and social workers. In a few days, they ultimately set up a resource center to serve 3,500 people and give shelter and hot food in the worst moments of the crisis. By them, it has also created a delivery center that assists hundreds of families with movables and other necessary items.

Abruptly, by everyone, the City of Shelter was discovered. By Deel and his team, it has proved that they have the tools required to immediately respond to a crisis, prepare resources, and coordinate hundreds of volunteers to support thousands of human-beings.  What didn’t sound wild, against all odds was Deel’s plans to cover an ambitious and all-inclusive NGO.


Chapter 6 – Year after year, it was the City of Asylum that became a full-fledged expert organization.


In the early years, by Deel and his colleagues, it was moving from crisis to crisis by putting out fires. Because they never had adequate money or staff, they did their best with restricted resources.

However, with their newfound credibility, a boost gushed out. Donations and cooperation proposals were overflowing.

The most important of these came from the mayor’s office and by them, it was asked if the City of Asylum desired to attend forces to solve the housing crisis. The city will ensure $ 1.5 million in funding to reconstruct a part of the City of Shelter’s vast land into 40 apartments that will serve as provisional housing for homeless mothers and kids.

It was the type of break Deel’s team had been expecting, and it was a major turning point for Shelter City. The residence, 500-seat high-tech dining hall, and childcare center were completed within a year. Shelter City presented “Eden Village” in 2008, which will house 40 moms and 82 kids.

Even a year later, they were contacted by the city again and asked if they were willing to build more housing, this time for single women. Deel didn’t waver for a moment. The team came together to obtain a building license and completed the construction of Eden Village 2, the second residential block, in just three months. Now 80 more women had a place to stay at the facility.

Over the next few years, more will be accomplished by Deel and his team than most individuals hope to accomplish in a lifetime. In addition to providing temporary housing, they formed a full-service clinic. Former criminals have immersed themselves in education by establishing a special school and vocational training programs for veterans and formerly homeless people.



As if that wasn’t adequate to hold them busy, Shelter City was decided by Deel to build a special shelter for sex trafficking victims after meeting a woman who had escaped from the clutches of a trafficking gang. When he comprehended that she has nowhere to go; The project gathered $1 million to build its shelter within a year. Since then, a trauma-informed care program has been initiated by them, supporting 700 women.

The place where the one-stop-shop Deel had always imagined was the City of Asylum.


Chapter 7 – It is a success that is measured and celebrated in small steps, not by the best big transformations.


Today, in the City of Refuge, impressive statistics can be presented on how many lives they assisted transform. However, it was Deel who realized that success cannot be measured by major transformations alone.

He didn’t always consider it that way. When he first began working at Westside, he had very solid ideas about what it means to support communities and how thriving interventions in individuals’ lives can be measured. In his mind, a program can be seen as successful when it causes people to enduringly renounce destructive habits and embrace fresh, independent, measured, and productive lives. Actually, by him, it was thought that outreach projects should have a neat endpoint.

His years in the office gave him the sagacity to understand that transformation is not about grand narratives of achievement and failure, winners, and losers. Instead, it was about celebrating the growth that can occur in little steps. By him, it was found out that the most significant thing is to concentrate on the present – backing up individuals to make good decisions at the moment and seeing every day as a clean slate.

For instance, it was he and his co-workers who celebrated every time a heroin addict managed to stay sober another day on one of their schedules. Or the moment when a seriously traumatized woman manages to make eye contact while eating. Or when a chronic alcoholic selected to drink a little less, it was more surprising than catatonic.

A mitigation model was adopted, and rather than imposing expectations and judgments from above, it attempted to assist people in the specific ways they required.



Today, some of Deel’s collaborators may not seem prosperous to the outside observer. Like Vanessa, she is a homeless woman who previously had chronic health problems. Or Rufus, an ex-addict who couldn’t work independently, drive or live. Both have had multiple relapses, and it can sometimes be difficult to work together. They will be dependent on Shelter City for the rest of their lives.

However, by Deel, it is known that all these people grew up tremendously. Decades of trauma have been dealt with by both of them and are actively tackling strong drug addictions. Despite having experienced numerous relapses, they selected to participate in the program over and over again. They aren’t homeless anymore and have re-built relationships with their families. Above all, they live a dignified and fulfilling life.

Such conversions cannot be summarized accurately in a statistic. The care of these individuals is endless, and the requirements are sometimes tiring and complicated. However, theirs are stories of bravery and growth accomplished through laborious steps.


Chapter 8 – Trust is contagious.


When it was decided by Deel to adopt the principle of trust first after intervening in that fateful debate in the liquor store parking lot, it was possibly not noticed that he was the person most likely to discover trust.

Again, and again, he had to grapple with the gulf between his intuition and the truth of a condition. He was told by his intuition that his trust had been violated repeatedly, even though it was the policy of complete trust that was the answer to doing effective work at Westside. When it was decided by Deel to adopt the principle of trust first after intervening in that fateful debate in the liquor store parking lot, it was possibly not noticed that he was the person most likely to discover trust. What told him was his intuition that they required a tremendous one-time charity project; in actuality, it resulted in a rat-infested warehouse and no funds.

Simply diving in and being confident that things would be okay has permitted the City of Shelter to accomplish surprising growth. This would never have been possible had Deel waited until he knew exactly how the project would turn out.

In the end, what has proven to be true is Deel’s intuition – that trust is so important. Thanks to him and his team who believed that everyone was fundamentally reliable, it could be seen beyond labels like “drug addict” and “criminal”. This gave them the chance to get to know human-beings as individuals and discover more about what they required.



It was to expand the complete trust, which emerged as the best roadmap for giving up ineffective punishment models in the context of community work. It is the City of Refuge that prides itself on lowering admission as much as probable. It is not believed by them that being an alcoholic means you do not deserve asylum or that there should be a limit to second chances. Their experience also confirmed this approach; It makes the City of Shelter’s work more effective in assisting human-beings to reconstruct their lives, not less.

The best part of trust is that it is contagious. What demanded the society he worked with to open themselves up to another probability of disappointment at the hands of an authority figure was trusting Deel. However, it was to see how Deel keeps going in this course that has permitted many to take a huge leap of faith and yet do so.

Thanks to Deel’s steadfast trust, many human-beings were encouraged to participate in his project. When, by him and his team, working was begun at the one-stop-shop, by no-one, it wasn’t desired to touch the project with the barge mast. However, over the years, thanks to their unwavering commitment, thousands of volunteers and donors have been inspired to attend the City of Refuge.


Trust First: A True Story About the Power of Giving People Second Chances by Bruce Deel, Sara Grace Book Review


Those who suffer from chronic occasion injustice are people born in poverty in the United States. They do not have access to stable housing, nutritious food, and quality education. Worst of all, what meant they did not know about their core value and possible was a lifetime of trauma and abuse. Realization of this made Deel realize that every work he did in the society had to take both concrete steps to correct the injustice of occasion and to exchange moral judgments for unconditional trust. This approach permitted Deel’s City of Asylum to create assertive, respectful social projects that serve the actual needs of the societies with which they work.


When considering what to give someone, think about what you desire to get.

When the distribution of food was begun by Pastor Deel, people were given stale bologna sandwiches donated from a local grocery store. However, it soon became clear that feeding people poor quality food undermined the whole purpose of the project – indirect humiliation of the people he was trying to serve. From then on, he took care to just share food that he would be happy eating. Instead of stale sandwiches, homemade pancakes with fresh coffee were put. If you desire to be generous, do not give anything that you would not be happy about.


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