Cathy Berggren is the Executive Director of the Real Life Center where she started as a volunteer in 1998. Cathy holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is a general and domestic mediator in Georgia and has over 30 years of experience in a variety of community work.
Her background and passion for others have helped develop the Real Life Center’s unique process of holistic care designed to encourage long-term change and broad community involvement. She currently serves on the Leadership Team with Dogwood Church, Fayette and Coweta Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards for Midwest Food Bank, FEMA, and DFCS.
Cathy is passionate about helping others and encouraging others to live a life of intention and influence.
We are thrilled to have Shannon Echevarria join our staff as our Client Coordinator. A Kansas native, Shannon moved to this area in 2013 with her two daughters. She has a Masters degree in counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Shannon is a member of Dogwood Church and is active in the Worship Team and her Lifegroup. Shannon feels blessed to be a part of the Real Life Center ministry and we feel blessed to have her and her wonderful gift of caring for people. When not working, you can find Shannon spending time with her daughters, riding her Harley, and enjoying spending time with friends and family in Kansas. Welcome, Shannon!
John began his association with RLC in 2012 as a volunteer and then as a staff member. He returned to the organization in May, 2017. John handles the financial and business aspects of the ministry, and he assists with other community and operational functions. He has served in senior leadership positions of large and medium-sized companies since 1985, and he is a CPA with a BBA in Accounting from Texas Wesleyan University. He has served in various church and non-profit leadership roles for over 35 years, and he has a passion for serving Christ and helping people. He has 2 sons and twin grandsons.
Matt serves as Volunteer Coordinator at the Real Life Center. Before joining our team, he served as a Family Pastor at a church where he ministered to children, students, and their families. Matt grew up in Texas, and he then lived in the Nashville, Tennessee area for twelve years before moving to Georgia. Matt and his wife, Amy, have two small children and are devoted Vanderbilt Commodore fans.
Matt holds a Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry from Dallas Baptist University.
Development and Special Projects Manager
Lina feels very blessed to be a part of the wonderful staff at the Real Life Center as Marketing Coordinator. She is responsible for marketing & branding activities, fundraising, donor development & social media strategies. Lina has a BS in industrial engineering from Purdue University and has worked previously as a manufacturing manager at Intel Corporation in New Mexico. Lina and her husband, Joel, have three daughters and a son. Besides being a mother, and working at The Real Life Center, Lina’s favorite things are the ocean, traveling, playing her cello, singing in church, and exercise.
Food Drive Coordinator
Kristen serves part time as the Food Drive Coordinator. Kristen and her husband Quinn and two daughters, Leanna and Gracie, moved here from their home town Greensboro, North Carolina in January 2015. God led them here through a new career opportunity for Quinn in Atlanta.
Kristen’s passion for this ministry began in her childhood when her Grandmother would take her to Greensboro Urban Ministry in Greensboro, NC to help serve meals to people in need in the community. Kristen has enjoyed volunteering to help with food drives in Greensboro numerous times over the years. Kristen feels very blessed to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful staff and volunteers at the RLC to serve the Lord in this amazing community!
Melanie serves part-time as our Educational Coordinator. She believes that you can learn something every day if you pay attention and that someday you’ll be glad you did. Melanie received a B.S. and an M.Ed. from Texas A&M University and an Ed.D. from the University of Houston. She is a mom to three kids in school, so her other fun job is being their driver. Whenever she can, she loves to plant things and watch them grow.
Operations Support/Orchard Coordinator
Steve Thomas serves part-time as Operations Support and Orchard Coordinator. In this capacity, Steve supports the Center, both stores, and the Orchard.
Steve has been self-employed since 1972, designing and building quality control gauging systems primarily for the food processing and can manufacturing industry. Steve is also an active volunteer with the Orchard. He helped with the planting of the Orchard and has served on the Fig/Pomegranate Team and as Peach Team Lead.
He and his family live in Tyrone and attend Dogwood Church. They have 7 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
Pete serves as our Operations Manager. In that capacity, he is responsible for all logistics, transportation, and warehouse functions at the Real Life Center. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. He is a 20-year veteran of the US Army, retiring out of Fort McPherson in 2007.
Pete and his wife Laurel are natives of the state of New Hampshire. They have two daughters.