Local News

Woman Inspired by Mother Teresa Helps Low-Income Families

Posted September 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— For 35 years, Dorothy Allen worked to help low-income families turn their lives around. At one time she was a single mother living in public housing and had no money or food. But people in Wake County helped her and she vowed to give back to the community.

Allen kept her promise and made it her life's work. All you have to do is look at Dorothy Allen's wall of fame to realize what she has meant to people in Raleigh.

"I always said if anyone needed me I would try to be there for them," said Allen.

In the early 60's Allen volunteered at Wake Opportunities, a program which aids low income families. In 1969 she became the executive director and since that time has touched thousands of lives.

Allen counts Mother Teresa and civil right's leaders as inspirations, but says her best teachers were her parents.

This summer, at age 71, Allen retired. She has scrap books full of memories, but what she really hopes to leave behind is a legacy of giving which others can learn from.

"If you give that love to someone else it will make you whole and the greatest thing anybody can give is love, is to really love unconditionally," said Allen.

Allen helped Wake Opportunities grow from a small community action group to a large non-profit agency which spends more than $5 million a year to help people in the community. She is most proud of her efforts to expand the head-start program and to develop public housing for their clients.