In the wake of a national financial crisis, the last thing anyone would expect is a group of people to step up to meet the needs of the homeless and suffering, but in 2009, 19 people did just that.
Sunday night, the Liberty Regional Homeless Coalition celebrated its 10-year anniversary at Victory Assembly of God in Hinesville. President Jim McIntosh said it has been a journey and the coalition has changed in the last 10 years, but the goal has been the same – to help those who are in need.
What began with 19 people now has a board and 250 members. In 2018, the coalition had served over 1,055 people, logged over 2,600 volunteer hours, and received over $2,000 in donations. At that time, McIntosh said the coalition was worth approximately $108,000. They help shelter, clothe, and feed the people of Liberty County and the surrounding area with the help of other local entities including Liberty County Manna House, the Liberty County Ministerial Alliance, and city, county, and federal government agencies.
“When I came on as president three years ago, we had a wish list,” McIntosh said. “Now, we have a to-do list.”
And they do so much with plans to expand so they can do more.
For the last three years, the coalition has held a clothing drive for the children of Liberty County. According to McIntosh, in 2018 there were 320 students considered homeless – either living on the streets, doubling-up with another family, or sleeping on a couch. The coalition was able to provide clothing and backpacks for those students with clothing and uniforms to spare. It isn’t enough. McIntosh hopes to expand services to Wayne County in 2019.
Likewise, the coalition is thinking ahead in the wake of hurricanes like Dorian that could have so easily impacted coastal Georgia with the kind of devastation it had in The Bahamas. McIntosh said the last two weeks have shown him the need for a shelter system, and he has added it to the coalition’s to-do list. With the coalition’s help, Liberty County Manna House will be sending a shipment of food and supplies to The Bahamas.
Rev. Katrina Deason, Director of Manna House, spoke at the celebration ceremony of the need to help those people impacted by Hurricane Dorian. She recalled the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in the Gospel of John when the loaves of bread and basket of fish were multiplied so that everyone had plenty.
“What we make happen for others, God makes happen for us…touching the lives of others, touches the heart of God,” Deason said. “Heaven is celebrating with us.”
While looking to help those in need outside of coastal Georgia, the coalition is also turning its focus on military veterans in the area. On September 28, the coalition is sponsoring the first conference dedicated to the needs of veterans, regardless of their housing situation.
Lt. Col. David Beavers, Chaplain at Marne Chapel at Fort Stewart spoke of the impact one act of kindness has on the person receiving it. He told the story of a boy throwing starfish back into the sea to save them from the sun. While there were thousands of starfish and only one boy, he continued to help as many as he could.
“It made a difference to that starfish,” Beavers said. “The coalition may not help everyone, but it makes a difference for those it does help.”
Liberty Regional Homeless Coalition Vice President Temperance West said, “It takes a village, and we have a large and giving village.”
As the coalition looks forward to the next 10 years of service, they rely on donations and volunteers to help those in need.
If you would like more information call (912) 877-5293.