Community Impact: NOA's Ark, Inc. (No One Alone)
Since 1990, NOA’s Ark, Inc., in Dahlonega, has provided emergency shelter and a comprehensive support program for those in situations involving domestic violence. By meeting their immediate needs, making counseling available and helping victims transition into new homes, NOA’s Ark works to stop the cycle of abuse.
For the past 10 years, the Jackson EMC Foundation has helped fund trauma counseling programs at the domestic violence shelter. The first grant for NOA’s Ark was $7,500 for parenting classes in November 2005. Most recently, a $5,000 grant approved at the December Foundation meeting will provide food to shelter residents and outreach clients. In all, grants for NOA’s Ark total $77,000.
Families are allowed to stay up to three months at the emergency shelter, where women and children have access to as many counseling sessions as they desire. Along with individual counseling, two support groups offer extra counseling options. After leaving the shelter, eight more sessions are available.
“We feel that counseling is the essential component here,” says NOA’s Ark Executive Director Cara Ledford. “The counselors dig deep into the trauma, help clients put everything in perspective and help them through it. Counseling plays a crucial role in healing and shift of mindset, self-awareness and self-esteem. It’s the critical piece in what we do. We’re so grateful for the Jackson EMC Foundation. We couldn’t do what we do without the counseling. It’s one of the key factors in not repeating the cycle and getting out of the shelter and on with life.”
NOA’s Ark contracts with private practice licensed professional counselors trained in trauma, depression, anxiety, PostTraumatic Stress Disorder and other issues related to domestic violence. Shelter residents and non-residents are offered counseling services, including male victims of domestic violence who are housed in area motels.
While the stories of families who seek shelter at NOA’s Ark vary dramatically, one constant is that those involved can benefit from counseling. Ledford shares one family’s experience: “We had a woman with two children who were shutdown, not speaking and with barely any motor skills, just so far behind mentally. Her husband had been locking the children in closets and hurting their mother. Here, she started counseling, got the kids into Head Start, and within two months they were speaking, interacting and happy, like they were new little children.”
Serving Lumpkin and Dawson counties, NOA’s Ark also helps clients transition into apartments in their new Rapid Rehousing program. The organization’s thrift store in downtown Dahlonega allows clients to shop for free to acquire kitchenware, linens and other necessities for setting up housekeeping in a new home. To learn more about NOA’s Ark, visit www.noonealone.org.