The Light: December 2015

Christmas: No Time to Be Homeless

Two years ago, Fred was working as a security guard. Then, just like that, his own security was gone.

He’d been laid off and couldn’t find more work. He was barely surviving on his unemployment checks — and then his car died.

“I was low on finances, heading toward destitution, and unable to pay rent,” he says.

Fred hit the streets, not knowing where he would turn. He was terrified he’d have to spend the night outside, alone. And worse, it was almost Christmas.

“What a time to be homeless,” he says.

He started asking others who were homeless if they could recommend a place to stay. Several pointed to Atlanta Mission, so Fred decided to check it out.

“That first night, I got a good meal and a good night’s sleep,” he says.

The next day, Fred went out and “pounded the pavement,” as he puts it, and applied for numerous jobs. He did it again the next day. And the next.

For almost a full year, Fred kept looking . . . and striking out. It was discouraging, but Atlanta Mission staff helped keep him going.

“I wanted a job right away, but it didn’t happen, and that was frustrating,” he says. “I kept wondering, When will this end? When will I be self-sufficient again?

“Atlanta Mission was a psychological lifesaver for me. I can’t say enough about how much support I got from them. It really makes a difference, because [extended unemployment] can be pretty scary.

“But they kept saying, ‘Just keep plowing ahead. Do your thing. God will take care of everything. As long as you believe and do your part, things will work out.’”

Which is exactly what happened. Atlanta Mission kept encouraging him and giving him vocational training. And Fred got a job — as a security guard — and moved into Fuqua Hall, Atlanta Mission’s transitional housing unit. He is working and saving money to move out some time in 2016.

Fred is looking forward to living on his own again, but says it never would’ve happened without Atlanta Mission.

“They changed my life,” he says. “I had gotten away from God, and they brought me back to God. They also gave me a greater appreciation for my perspective on life. I used to be selfish, putting me first. I’m not selfish any more. I’m putting others first.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Back on Their Feet:

How you helped prepare these men for great things in 2016.

“They’ve helped with my recovery. I’m working a temp job now, and in 2016 , I want to get my own apartment, stay clean, and get closer to God. 2015ATL12ENATL-Dec-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-282x298Without Atlanta Mission, it would have been hard for me to get back on my feet and back into society.” — Otis

“I was struggling with drugs, and this place has been incredibly helpful with my rehab and recovery. It’s prepared me to stay sober and move on, so I can live on my own. I’ll wash dishes, anything. I’m just grateful for a chance to start over.” — James

“Atlanta Mission gave me all the tools I needed to find a new job. Now I’m the Fire Safety Director at a local museum. And in 2016, I want to be in my own place, find a church home, and stay strong in my faith.” — Edmond

“When I lost my job, I came here and worked part time till I could find something to do with my degree. Atlanta Mission taught me how to budget. Now I’m working full-time with DeKalb County. My hopes are to buy a home and live independently.” — Kawagi

Twenty Years of Transition — Thanks to You!

Twenty years ago, Atlanta Mission had a vision for transitional housing, a place to help men get back on their fiscal feet, a temporary shelter for men who’d recently returned to the workforce, but couldn’t yet afford to live on their own.

That building, Fuqua Hall, today houses 92 men who are successfully making that transition, thanks to the ongoing support of friends like you.

But did you know that it might not have happened without the help of . . . the Olympics?

The facility was built before the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta — and then leased out to the international press during the 45 days of the Games. The income helped pay for the new building, named Fuqua Hall after Atlanta businessman J.B. Fuqua, who supported the project.

After the Games, Atlanta Mission took over the building, which is right next to The Shepherd’s Inn, our men’s shelter. Both facilities are across the street from Centennial Olympic Park.

Today, Fuqua Hall includes 92 single-unit apartments for men who work full time, and/or attend school. Men stay a minimum of six months; graduation depends on successful completion of client and program goals.

Men coming out of homelessness are often overcoming tragic losses, difficult circumstances, or destructive lifestyles. Fuqua Hall’s programs provide extended support to help men like these navigate the transition to independent living.

And truly, none of this work would happen without your generous support. Thank you for caring!

An Exhilarating Experience

Atlanta Mission’s annual 5K Race to End Homelessness will be held on February 20, 2016, and you don’t want to miss it. Just ask one of our clients who ran the race last year.

When she came to Atlanta Mission in early 2014 for help, she was using a walker. She’d had an accident and subsequent surgery that required screws to hold her ankle together. She worked hard to get her life back together, and when the 5K rolled around last February, she decided to participate. For her, just getting to the finish line was considered a win. She was thrilled when she got there.

“It was an exhilarating experience of health and recovery,” she says. “It was freedom and power. When I finished, I knew I could do anything.”

She will run again in February’s event, and wants you to join her — because it’s fun, because it’s good, and because it’s a big fundraiser. We are aiming for more than 2,500 participants and hope to raise up to $200,000. Please join us!

Save the date: Saturday, February 20, 2016. Please go to atlantamission.org/race to register today!

Thank You for Helping Them Escape the Streets

On New Year’s Eve, there will be up to 7,000 homeless men, women, and children in Metro Atlanta. That stat will remained unchanged for the first day of 2016.

article-photo-03Those people are 7,000 reasons your support is so vital. For many of them, one year just blurs into the next, facing the same harsh conditions, day after day. They need a reason to hope, to press on.

Your gift will help Atlanta Mission continue to provide meals, shelter, and life-transforming programs well into 2016. Your continued support will help us finish 2015 strong, and start the new year on solid ground.

Those things are important, yes. But it’s not about us. It’s about those 7,000 people. While most of America watches the ball drop at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the least we can do for the “least of these” is to position them for a brighter New Year. At the very least, happier and healthier than the year before.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Please give by December 31 to receive a tax deduction for 2015!

To donate by phone, call 404-350-1301. To donate online, please go here.

A Message from Jim Reese, President & CEO

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

Closing out one year and looking to the next creates in me a heart of incredible appreciation and even higher anticipation.

As I look back on 2015 and all we have accomplished together, it is amazing to see how God has moved in so many lives.

And I think of all the things that happened in 2015 because of you:

• Women, including many single mothers, are flocking to the Day Shelter, many more than we expected — all of them looking for, and finding, hope!

• Men are taking courageous steps of faith through life-changing programs and Bible study. Many learn that they are loved and that they really do matter.

• Children are finding love and care, not only from our team, but many in new ways from their moms, who are overcoming unimaginable struggles.

It is humbling and overwhelming to think how God has used us together to touch so many lives.

And now we look forward to 2016 with great anticipation, as we help those we serve physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and vocationally. We want them to be ready in all of these areas when they leave us and join the community.

I want to sincerely thank you for how you have made all of this possible this past year. And I want to ask you to continue to partner with us both financially and in prayer in 2016. We cannot do this work without you.

May you and your family have a truly blessed new year.

 

Blessings,ATL-eNewsletter-NL-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140

Jim Reese

President & CEO