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Page 16

SHARING IS CARING

HOMELESS WOMEN FIND

fresh start STORY BY AMBER TYNER • PHOTOS BY SCOTT ROGERS

W

ith the start of a new year, it’s time for a new beginning. Many people have already adopted resolutions to better their lives in the coming months, and for women in need, one organization in Northeast Georgia can help ensure those goals are met. My Sister’s Place, a nonprofit located in Gainesville, offers shelter and assistance for homeless women and mothers with children. “It provides a place where women who are feeling broken, who are lost can go to receive hope,” said Tawana Finch, shelter manager. But the organization is more than just an overnight or emergency shelter. Brandee Thomas, executive director, said it’s a 90-day program that helps the women “overcome the obstacles that led to them being homeless.” “Our mission is to be a haven for a fresh start,” Thomas said. “Whatever the ladies need for that fresh start, we want to meet

them at that level and help them to build from there. For each resident, we come up with a case plan to help them be their best selves.” She shared the success story of Kay, a woman who recently stayed at the shelter with her 11-year-old son. “Before coming to us, (Kay) had been living in an extended-stay for two years with her son,” Thomas said. “She was working every day, but she just could not get enough money to be able to pay for their weekly hotel bill plus save for an apartment. So for two years, that was their life — sharing one hotel room.” Eventually, Kay missed one too many days of work because she was sick. She was unable to continue paying the hotel bill, so she sought refuge for her family at My Sister’s Place. “They moved in, she started building up her savings and she was ready to find them an apartment,” Thomas said. “In 90 days, she was able to do something she hadn’t been able to do on her own for two years.”

ABOVE: 19-month-old Kamari looks for a toy to play with during his stay at My Sister’s Place in Gainesville. The homeless women’s shelter was opened in 2000 by founder Marty Owens. OPPOSITE PAGE: TOP: My Sister’s Place Executive Director Brandee Thomas checks the shelter food pantry of donated food items. BOTTOM: Thomas refills the snack bowl at the Gainesville women’s homeless shelter.

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