This post appeared in The Covington News on March 26.
For some people, having a home means owning some property. A place that is yours. For others it may mean to rent or lease but it still grows to feel like home. Home is also a place for family. Home is a place where memories are made. It is a place of security, a place to step away from the world and feel you are “home.” Someone has well stated it when they said, “Home is where they have to take you in whether they want to or not.”
Now imagine with me if you were to lose the place you call home. If there were no secure place for you and those you live with to be today. If you were not sure where you and your family would be tonight, much less tomorrow. Homelessness is a scary place to find oneself.
In our state there are 14,000 people who are homeless today. And some of these are neighbors in Newton County. Our state makes the top ten in the nation on several lists that we don’t want to rate high. We are second in the nation for Veteran homelessness and ninth in the nation for homeless families.
One out of five parents manage on a household income below the poverty line. And at times it becomes overwhelming to provide a secure home for themselves or their families.
There are several agencies in our community that are dealing with this issue. And I salute all their efforts. One I would like to spotlight today is one that has been involved in our community for about two years, Action Ministries. They began their work here in Newton County through providing lunches for children during the summer.
Since the first of October they have become active in offering housing solutions to people experiencing homelessness. The first program they offered was Action Serves. This program combines with funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and funds raised by Action Ministries. The program is serving eligible veterans and their families in Newton County to prevent or end homelessness as quickly possible.
The second effort they have launched is called Action Empowers. With funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as local funds they attempt to reduce homelessness and provide support to the families within 30 days of their application being approved.
As of today, seven families with 20 children have been stabilized in their need for housing. Two more families will join their ranks in the next few days. What a great start to the launch of this effort. All but two of these first participants are single moms.
Tamara Richardson, regional director for Action Ministries, said, “We are pleased to be able to offer housing solutions to people who need them in our area. We are partnering with local people and businesses, like Newton Federal Bank, to support our families who are transitioning out of homelessness into a stable, secure housing situation.” She added that support from the community makes it possible for people to turn the page in their life story.
There are several ways you can get involved. One is through your church or circle of friends or neighbors, help pass the word this help is available. Potential applicants for either housing programs, veterans and families, should contact the intake line at 404-881-1991, ext. 5608.
To find out how a congregation, or company or civic organization can partner with Action Ministries to help lead people out of poverty, contact Tamara Richardson at 678-2808-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another way that people are getting involved is by preparing “Welcoming Kits.” The first five families received welcoming kits from the folks at Newton Federal. Most come to the program with nothing to begin a household. There is often a need for furniture and a variety of household items. One way you could volunteer is to offer to pick up donated items and deliver them to the family that is trying for a fresh start. While not everything can be used, call Action Ministries and tell what you have to share. One member of one of the founding churches of the Piedmont Regional Office, Alcovy United Methodist, donated a lazy boy chair and another family donated a day bed. The other founding congregation was Mt. Pleasant United Methodist.
Other congregations are urged to get involved. One possibility is to be connected to a specific family and help them reach a level of normalcy.
While new to Newton County, Action Ministries is involved in 15 other counties with Action Empowers Housing. They are also in 23 other counties in Georgia in Action Serves for Veterans.
One great way you get involved today is to spend your Sunday afternoon with the Walk for Mission of the Prospect United Methodist Church. They are walking 10K to raise $10,000.
The effort is for both Action Serves and the Action Ministries Food Program that helps children that would be hungry on the weekend without SuperPacks. It starts at 3 p.m. at the Denny Dobbs Park off of 212 across from the Oak Hill Elementary School.