Auction to benefit local transitional housing program
Board members of an Ellijay nonprofit that provides transitional housing assistance for families and individuals are hopeful an upcoming auction will raise enough money to pay off debt on property used by the organization.
New Beginnings for Gilmer County will benefit from the auction scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Harvest Missionary Church.
“I think it’s a good project that the community really needs (and) we wanted to do something to help,” said Harvest Missionary pastor Glenn Arnold about the housing program.
New Beginnings, which also provides counseling and other life management assistance to persons who’ve found themselves without permanent housing, broke ground on an 800-square foot stick build home in the Boardtown area of the county last January. The nonprofit has also purchased a 12-acre tract of land that will allow for future expansion of its services.
“The proceeds from last year’s auction went into construction costs for the first house that (we started building) this year,” said program trustee Kent Sanford. “If we do as well this year, we should be able to retire the debt (on the house and property).”
The auction will be open to the public and one does not have to be a member of the church or any other church to attend, confirmed both Sanford and Arnold.
“If you’re looking for a good air compressor or a saddle for your horse, those are some of the items that have been donated,” said Sanford. “I know there are also some bicycles, some good furniture, a refrigerator/freezer, exercise equipment and quite a few different types of tools.”
Arnold said the church will accept donations until Friday, even up to auction time.
“They can bring items right up to the auction. There will be some guys there to unload it and bring it in. We just ask that it be fairly nice stuff in good, usable condition (and) we’re not (accepting) clothes,” he added.
“There will also be some good food, as well as cash prizes. We’ll have a guy who cooks barbecue that doesn’t get any better,” Arnold continued. “When you buy something that’s $10 or more, we’ll give you a drawing ticket for a cash prize.”
Some surprising merchandise could appear on the auction block.
“One guy wanted to know if he can bring a horse. I told him we’d try to sell it, but if it doesn’t sell you still own that horse,” Arnold said with a chuckle. “You never know who will be there and what they’ll be looking for.”
The auction is one of several community fundraisers to be held for New Beginnings this year.
“Ronnie Thompson Ford (did) a car show that was big for us. We had a special Independence Day offering with churches in the community in July and we’ve had a matching fund drive that Faith, Hope and Charity has helped us with,” confirmed Sanford.
Sanford said the first New Beginnings house will be followed by construction of a second, which will allow the nonprofit to assist more local residents. Two mobile homes are also used for temporary housing.
“The first house will be completed in the next couple of months and we are in the process of working on a survey for another house (to be built) next year,” said Sanford.
There hasn’t been a lull in the need for transitional housing in the county since the fledgling program first began offering help in 2014.
“We’ve helped several people through the course of this year. (Just) this week, one of our churches got a call from someone who had nowhere to stay that night. We met with them and felt like they were good candidates, so we put them up in a local motel for a couple of days,” Sanford said.
Sometimes alternate ways must be found to help those with nowhere else to go.
“The trustees have approved us to help people even in situations where we do not have a house at our location available, but we can find a place to rent or something along those lines,” said Sanford. “With the (couple we helped this week) we looked everywhere for a place to rent, but could not find one.”
Sanford said he would like to see the housing program expand its reach closer into town.
“A lot of people have multiple problems, not just being homeless. They may not have transportation or a job,” he added. “One of the goals for next year is to find alternatives that are within walking distance from employment here in town.”
Sanford said the couple who the program helped recently are on the way to doing better.
“The man now has a job. We were able to work with one of our supporters here in town to find him employment. (There was) a place for them to rent and we’ve started making plans to help them get a vehicle. That’s an immediate success story just in the course of the past week,” said Sanford.
A helping hand to steer someone in the right direction can sometimes make all the difference in the world, Arnold suggested.
“We want to do our part as far as doing counseling with people in the program and helping people get their lives back on track. Not only with the Lord, but there are a lot of people who just need help managing their lives and getting on their feet,” said the missionary church preacher.
“I’ve seen a lot of people like that in all my years of pastoring,” he continued. “The problem is that there has never really been anywhere (stable) here to put them. I really think this program is going to help.”