GLYNN COUNTY, Fla. – At Saved by Grace in Glynn County, Georgia, the mission is to help and give hope.
Inside its day facility is a laundry room for the homeless to wash their clothes, personal hygiene boxes and a shower. Visitors can also get something to eat and meet with social services to assist in their needs. There’s even a 14-bed, male-only shelter.
For clients like Michael, whom News4jax will only identify by his first name, this is a godsend.
“I’m so used to just shelters where you come and get something to eat, then kick you right back out,” Michael said. “This right here, I don’t consider it like a shelter. It’s like a family, they welcome you right in.”
Maria Gamble and Donna Howard launched the group in 2016, after seeing a need they felt needed further addressing. The facility has grown a lot in that time. Lately, the women say they’re seeing something else.
“We have seen a huge increase with walk-in services and with men calling for the shelter,” Howard said.
Georgians need to make just under $21 an hour to afford a two-bedroom home. That’s up $1.55 an hour from last year, according to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. To be able to stay at Saved by Grace’s 14-bed shelter, clients must have a verifiable, 40-hour week job. Its day facility does not require employment. Gamble and Howard say with rents continuing to rise, they only foresee more clients needing help.
“The wages they make at their jobs just doesn’t match the rent that’s asked,” Howard said. “We feel like that’s the reason why we’re seeing such an increase.”
The facility currently serves the area of Highway 341. The women said it is within walking distance of many camps. They said there’s a homeless population at exit 38, another at the south end of town, and at exit 29. That’s why they feel they need to expand and add a second location, like the one in operation now.
Gamble explained not everyone has the proper documentation needed to find a job, and not everyone is mentally or physically able to work.
“They all belong to somebody,” Gamble said. “They’re all someone’s child, parent, or grandparent.”
As the women work toward opening a second facility, they hope to send a message of compassion.
“We want them to know they’re a person, they have value,” Howard said. “We feel like with what we do, we restore hope.”
“I think people need to understand what homelessness is about. Every homeless person isn’t a drug addict or an alcoholic,” Gamble said. “It doesn’t mean they’re lesser of a human being than anyone else.”
The women received a matching $15,000 grant to go toward a second location. What they need right now is an available space, whether it is a house or building. If anyone can assist in their search for a second location, they’re asked to get in touch with Saved by Grace. Donations are also needed.
The group’s Facebook page is also a valuable resource for donations and information.