Members of Hand in Hand of Glynn were surprised and disappointed by the strong opposition that compelled them to cancel plans last year to open a home for the homeless near downtown Brunswick.
The nonprofit organization had plans to convert an old hospital building that most recently housed mentally disabled adults into a complex that would give 24 homeless adults a permanent home.
The lesson learned was that doing God’s work takes faith and a belief that things happen for a reason people often don’t understand, said Anne Stembler, founder of Hand in Hand of Glynn.
She believes God wanted her organization to help more than 24 homeless people, which is how her organization was able to find an alternative that will enable them to provide permanent homes for 60 adults at the site of the old Altama Presbyterian Church on Altama Avenue in Brunswick. Groundbreaking is planned for mid November.
“It’s been a godsend,” she said. “One door closes and another opens.”
Work has already started at the site, including the erection of a tall, wooden privacy fence around three sides of the 4.24-acre site. The property line on Altama Avenue will be enclosed with an ornamental privacy wall to make it appear more tasteful to passersby.
The sanctuary, which was in poor condition, has been demolished. The roof on the old Sunday school building has been replaced and the interior is being renovated. The building will house medical services, a computer room, an administrative office, storage, a laundry room for village residents and a large common room for a number of planned activities.
There will also be a garden for residents to grow fresh fruit and vegetables.
Each home, 240 square feet in size, will be erected on a concrete slab and include new appliances and a bed. Stembler said she is also planning to ask church groups and local businesses to help outfit the homes.
“These people don’t have anything,” she said.
Linda Heagy, the organization’s treasurer, said residents will receive health screenings by medical professionals. Over time, the data will be able to indicate how their lives and health have been impacted by having a dry safe place to live.
“The goal is to create a community,” Heagy said.
A tiny home at the site will be moved to St. Simons Island where it will be on display as a way to generate more donations to help support the village.
Some of the homeless in Brunswick have jobs but don’t make enough money to afford the rent for a modest apartment in the Golden Isles. Residents will be taught life skills such as money management, cooking and hygiene.
The village grounds will be cleaned and mowed by residents in exchange for credits that can be used for food and other supplies in the pantry.
“Feeling self-sufficient and having work to do is a plan of the Lord,” Stembler said. “We are getting them to feel like part of the human race. A lot of this is about discovering God’s plans for you.”