Family Promise of Augusta is looking for spiritual walls to provide shelter for those in need.
“We’re a homeless shelter for families,” said director Sarah MacDonald. “We actually house the families within church walls. We rely on a network of churches coming together to house families for one week at a time for anywhere from two to four times a year.”
About 40 percent of the families on the program’s waiting list are from South Carolina.
Mt. Transfiguration Baptist is the only church in North Augusta participating in the program. The Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity held a meeting last week to find out about the program.
Still, more local churches are needed.
“If we can get enough churches in North Augusta to come together, at least 13, then we can open a day center over in North Augusta. That would give those families a South Carolina address,” MacDonald said.
It’s a ministry all churches can get involved in, regardless of size, she added.
“This is a hands-on approach to helping people and really touching the lives of children and parents here in the CSRA,” she said.
Families in the program are helped to find jobs, housing and get back on their feet within 90 days.The average amount of time a family spends in the program is 67 days.
To enroll in the program, families must undergo an intake process, including an interview with MacDonald or a case manager, have a background check and pass a drug screening.
The organization works closely with Goodwill Job Connection to help families. It also partners with Georgia Regents University’s social work department, which helps them with life skills.
“They get all of the direction and knowledge during the day, but at night at the churches, that’s where they’re getting all of the love, support and encouragement they need,” she said.
Participating churches transform rooms, typically Sunday school rooms, into temporary bedrooms, and they provide food. Family Promise of Augusta provides beds and linen.
“For many of us growing up, our parents were the ones saying, ‘I’m really sorry you had a bad day today, but tomorrow is going to be a better day’,” said MacDonald. “Those are what my volunteers are at the churches. They are that sweet and loving face that says, ‘I don’t know what happened today and it may not have been the greatest, but tomorrow is a new day and it’s going to be a good one for you.’
‘‘That’s the reason why the program works the way it does.”
The program has an 88 percent success rate with families leaving the program with both jobs and housing, she said, adding that they attribute much of the success to the churches’ involvement.
Churches interested in learning how they can get involved can contact MacDonald at (706) 364-4462.