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Church to spearhead shelter for homeless

POSTED: January 22, 2014 4:00 a.m.

A Dawsonville church is working with a national organization to set up temporary lodging for homeless families working to get back on their feet.

"The idea behind this interfaith hospitality network is that families would have an opportunity to receive temporary housing and job training and help getting into a more permanent housing situation," said David Jordan, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.

Representatives of Grace met Thursday with officials from the Family Promise organization.

"It is a unique program in that families are not separated. A lot of times in shelters, men and boys are separated from women and girls," said Donna Weaver, the church's director of Christian education. "This is an attempt to hold the family together and empower them."

While there are programs in the area designed to help families who have lost their home, there sometimes can be gaps in the lodging process.

"Family Promises is a place to go immediately," she said. "These families would spend a week at a time in host churches."

According to Weaver, there's an emphasis on job search training.

"There's an effort to not only put a Band-Aid on the problem, but to train and empower people," she said.

Locally, neighboring Hall County has a successful program, as does White County, according to Jordan. Nationally, the Family Promise program has a graduation rate of 80 percent.

The local effort remains in the planning phases. The time frame from conception to completion takes a minimum of 12-18 months, according to Weaver. However, the initiative has Grace and seven other churches working to shape it.

Jordan said he felt that the initiative, which is still in its infancy in Dawson County, was already being well-received.

"There are a lot of people here in different areas of the social spectrum who think that it's necessary," he said. "There are 122 separate families that the school system classifies as homeless."



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