Community Impact: Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children's Shelter
At Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter, families receive far more than a roof over their heads. They get help in learning life skills tonavigate their way to independent living.
Open since 1986, the residential care facility provides up to 12 months of transitional housing for homeless children ages 0-17 and their moms. With capacity to serve 20 families, the shelter operates on the belief that providing practical services helps families achieve self-sufficiency in terms of financial stability and permanent housing.
“Our goal — and the reason we exist — is to end the cycle of homelessness for children and young moms while keeping family units together in a loving, nurturing, supportive environment,” said Executive Director Maureen Kornowa. “The end goal is that families receive all the resources they need to begin a successful, independent lifestyle.”
Last year, the shelter served 147 mothers and children. The shelter anticipates serving more than 200 individuals representing 70 families this year, according to the director. Its grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation will fund case management personnel who work with families to facilitate life skills group activities, create and achieve life plans, and match with community resources.
“Our program gives families a place to stay rent-free while they focus on completing their GED, pursuing higher education, resume building, interviewing skills, career exploration, and securing and maintaining stable employment,” Kornowa said. “Our programs empower families with a supportive environment so they can apply their energies toward building a better future while also teaching the necessary skills to ensure lasting stability.”
Funding is especially important now because fundraising events were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the executive director.
“While COVID has the whole world stopped, Home of Hope has never closed its door to children and families in need,” Kornowa said. “With the help of Operation Round Up and the Jackson EMC Foundation, organizations like ours are able to continue the mission of keeping families together and leading them back to independence.”
Home of Hope provides support to children and their moms. Parents are required to get a job within 30 days of enrollment and must save 50% of their paycheck if working fulltime or 30% if working parttime while enrolled in school.
Last year, 29 families graduated from the program with an average savings per family of $3,500. These families transitioned into permanent housing and maintained their housing through the 90-day follow-up period, according to Kornowa.
“The return-on-investment is moms who were once homeless are now taxpaying citizens,” she said. “They have the mental, emotional and economic capacity to make good decisions and offer housing security for themselves and their children.”
For more information about Home of Hope, visit homeofhopegcs.org.