THE LIGHT: August 2018
A young mother and her three daughters were on the verge of homelessness in Atlanta. How would they survive?
Last year, Melita was working two jobs. She wasn’t wealthy, but she got by — providing well enough for her three daughters. But when her hours at one job were unexpectedly cut, she struggled to cover her car payments. And eventually, the vehicle was repossessed. Then she could no longer get to her second job.
“Everything spiraled out of control,” Melita says. “I couldn’t afford my bills. I lost the car. I lost my jobs. Then we got evicted. We were homeless.”
With nowhere else to go, Melita and her kids came to Atlanta Mission. They were placed in My Sister’s House — our shelter for women and children. (The name helps protect the children from the stigma of homelessness, in case anyone asks them where they live.)
“If not for Atlanta Mission, we would have been on the streets,” Melita recalls. “I was so stressed out. We needed a miracle. This place was an answer to our prayers.”
Rebuilding Step by Step
Atlanta Mission provided Melita’s family with everything they needed for their healing journey, including food and shelter, daycare for the youngest daughter and guidance for the eldest. Melita was especially grateful on behalf of her middle daughter, who was just entering 6th grade. “They gave her new clothes, papers, pencils, notebooks, and everything she needed to start the school year off right.”
With her daughters safely cared for, Melita was able to concentrate on getting her family back on their feet. Over the past year, she attended classes, got counseling, and worked closely with a caseworker to rebuild her life. She gained the knowledge and resources to regain full-time employment — and she just started her new job at the airport this Spring!
“Thanks to Atlanta Mission and everyone who supports this place, my daughters are thriving. I hope that by next year we’ll have our own place and a car,” Melita says. “My Sister’s House really inspired me and made me believe in myself again. Someday, I hope I can come back and inspire another mother like me, and let them know they can make it just like I did.”
A “Safe Zone” Where Children Thrive
“When kids come here, they usually have a lot of stability issues,” says LaTonya Conner, a Children’s Education Coordinator at Atlanta Mission. “Often they’ve been forced to move repeatedly and attended three or four schools in just a single a year. There may have been a variety of abusive men in and out of their lives. They live with constant uncertainty, they’re emotionally traumatized, and they’re almost always behind.”
“We do everything possible to give boys and girls here a chance to be ‘normal’ kids, just like every child deserves. Our supporters make all of this possible.”
To help these boys and girls catch up both academically and socially, LaTonya heads up a team of social workers, counselors, educators, and other dedicated staff.
“Younger kids have access to childcare and an early learning curriculum,” she explains. “Older kids get uniforms, school supplies, and tutors. We also provide them with spiritual growth and fun activities like field trips and summer camp — just like other kids get to enjoy.”
Going the “Extra Mile” for Special Needs Children
“We take a particular interest in children with special needs,” LaTonya says. “These kids have often not received adequate attention or the developmental care they need. So Atlanta Mission will bring in outside resources, like therapy and medical care, and make sure they get a proper diagnosis and treatment.” This gives them the best possible outcome, ensuring they thrive in school — and in life.
“Atlanta Mission is a safe zone for all our children,” LaTonya adds. “We do everything possible to give boys and girls here a chance to be ‘normal’ kids, just like every child deserves. Our supporters make all of this possible.”
Did You Know
The average elementary school student experiencing homelessness missed 88 days of school last year because they didn’t receive the basic necessities to thrive in school?
You can help provide a future for one of the precious children that will live at Atlanta Mission this school year.
They were sleeping outside on cardboard. And very, very afraid…
“I came to Atlanta for a fresh start, but it was rough…me and my kids wound up on the streets for two weeks, sleeping on cardboard. We had never been homeless before. It was horrible. I was afraid for them the whole time.
“I’m grateful for Atlanta Mission. They give you everything you need, like a bed, three meals a day, warm showers. They made sure my kids had what they needed for school — uniforms, school supplies, everything.
“Supporters of Atlanta Mission are angels from the Lord. Without them, I don’t know where we’d be. Now I’m working on employment, and I hope we have our own place soon.”
Investing in Young Lives
Jesus always made time for children, even when His closest friends incorrectly assumed He had more important things to do. It’s our joy to follow in His footsteps.
Each day, we serve between 75-85 boys and girls, from newborn infants to older teens. As you can imagine, there are many challenges caring for such a diverse range of children…but so many God-given opportunities, too.
What a pleasure it is to pour into the lives of these families in ways that model Jesus’ perfect example. Mothers learn to love, coach, correct and encourage their children. The bond between them is dramatically strengthened.
As growth and maturity occur, children begin to feel safe — often for the first time in their young lives. And it’s just amazing how that sense of security can impact a vulnerable boy or girl. They are freed from the pressure of “just surviving” to enjoy childhood, excel in school, be themselves, make friends, and develop the “childlike” faith that pleases God so much.
So you see, you are impacting families now and for eternity, and it’s beautiful. Thank you for giving so many hurting hearts new hope and a fresh start. Today, please keep in prayer all the children we are serving as the new school year starts. By God’s grace, we will see them thrive!
President & CEO
Ways to Give
We’d be honored to have you share in the joys, struggles and transformations of Atlanta’s most vulnerable souls.