Pray Without Ceasing

Praying HandsOur guests and staff face obstacles and hardships every day as they pursue transformation and fresh starts. We would appreciate your prayers and will share our requests periodically here on the blog.

Today, the following prayer requests are for the staff and guests at The Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children.

The Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children provides a variety of services, including childcare, showers, laundry, lunch, MARTA cards for medical appointments, medical care, life-skills classes, recreational opportunities, access to My Sister’s House (for overnight services), and much more.

For the Staff Team

Pray for unity and renewal as the staff work on the frontlines with women and children experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and PTSD. Pray for the staff to rely on the Lord as they attempt to love anew each day regardless of the constant flood of needs.

For Our Guests

Please continue to pray for the women and children who come to The Atlanta Day Shelter seeking help. Pray for people to experience the genuine love and peace of God. Pray for more mental health and recovery resources. Pray for the women’s safety and the safety of their children.

Macey’s Story of Transformation

Macey and her children at atlanta mission

After years of abuse, poverty, and dysfunction, Macey and her children had run out of options. Desperate to avoid the streets, they came to Atlanta Mission…

“I’ve struggled for a long time,” Macey admits. “Bad jobs, abusive boyfriends, moving around a lot. It’s been one thing after another.”

In many ways, these struggles are a continuation of her childhood. Macey came from a broken home, and instability has characterized much her life. This constant chaos has made it nearly impossible for her to provide for her children, too.

Eventually, she ran out of options and came to Atlanta Mission. For the first time, she experienced a stable, healthy environment to learn and grow in.

“I’m so grateful for Atlanta Mission,” Macey says. “It’s safe, we have beds to sleep on, and it’s been very good for me and my kids, Faith and Greggory.”

Today, both children are doing well in school. They received uniforms and backpacks from Atlanta Mission. And Macey is especially appreciative of the activities her children get to enjoy. “There are arts and  crafts, plus sports. They never had these opportunities before.”

The family isn’t just having fun, though. Their time here is intensely purposeful. For example, Macey took a parenting class that has dramatically improved her interaction with her children. “I’m a better mother now,” she explains. “This class gave me the tools I need to connect with my children — to really hear what they’re saying, understand them, and help them mature.”

More effective communication has been a key part of the family’s spiritual growth, too. “We’re all learning about God, and we talk about the Bible. Faith and Greggory have a better understanding of who Jesus is, and it’s changed their lives.” She continues: “I’m still going through some tough things, but I’ve learned to keep my focus on God, and He gives me peace.”

Today, Macey’s life really has changed in every way. She’s working towards her GED and will soon begin career training. She has a bright future! “I can’t even imagine where I’d be without Atlanta Mission,” Macey said. “They rescued us from homelessness and opened so many doors for me. This place was an answer to my prayers.”

To read other amazing stories of transformation, click here!

Homeless Children and Delayed Speech

It’s a documented fact that homeless children are at great risk for delayed speech. According to a study cited by the National Institutes of Health, 75 percent of homeless children ages 3 and 4 had language development problems.

The lack of stability in their living situation and the trauma experienced by homeless women result in these mothers not speaking to their children during their important developmental years as much as women in less stressful circumstances do.  The result is reduced vocabulary, impaired language development, and even slowed critical thinking and comprehension. By one estimate, an at-risk 3-year-old has heard 30 million fewer words than a more affluent peer.

Helping kids catch up

The NIH article does report some good news, however: These same kids rapidly caught up to their peers when they were exposed to age-appropriate language-building activities. Their reduced language abilities, it turns out, are not about poverty as much as lack of access to learning experiences.

To address this issue and break the cycle of homelessness and hopelessness, Atlanta Mission is working with the Spread the Word program, a $1 million dollar grant opportunity provided by PNC bank and administered in partnership with the Atlanta Speech School and Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Program facilitator Crystal Gibson works with moms to create a culture of language that they’ll be able to pass along to their children.

Breaking the cycle of silence

In a Spread the Word session at Atlanta Mission, one of the moms participating left in the middle and didn’t return. She later came back to apologize to Crystal. She had gone to the bathroom, she said, and couldn’t stop crying after watching a video. In that moment, she realized that her low self-esteem and feelings of not being heard were creating the same problem for her child—she needed to develop her own voice to help her child develop his.

In this context especially, the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard,” is not only wrong, it’s destructive.

Crystal says her experience at Atlanta Mission’s My Sister’s House was unlike any other she’s had in the Spread the Word program. “It pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me dig deeper to intentionally meet the participant needs,” she says. Atlanta Mission residents are in a particularly difficult situation, but one which motivates them to transcend it, do better for themselves and their kids. To address that need, Spread the Word partners provide parent engagement sessions, language-rich family field trips, books, coaching, resources and research based strategies.

 The work of Spread the Word

The key concepts of the parent engagement sessions are threefold: building responsive relationships, enhancing conversational partnerships, and increasing interactive reading. It strives to promote conversations not only among parents and children, but within a supportive community. That’s the key to developing good communication skills that will help a child break out of language impairment—an issue that can make it difficult for a child to break free from a cycle of generational poverty and homelessness. The residents aren’t the only ones who have experienced positive change from working with the Spread the Word program. Crystal says, “It’s really fulfilling to help these moms and others to also dig deeply within themselves to discover strengths they may not have known they had. I feel that’s a part of my life’s purpose.”