By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 12, 2016
EAST POINT—Sheltering Grace Ministry has a new facility to serve more homeless pregnant women.
Local dignitaries, including Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, celebrated as Sheltering Grace settled into an East Point senior care building that had sat vacant for a decade. The building served as a Catholic personal care home for the elderly known as St. Thomas Manor from 1988 to 2006.
It now provides 12 bedrooms, a common area, a kitchen and chapel for Sheltering Grace clients. Each bedroom is named for a strong woman in the Bible. The chapel is dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. It includes a statue showing Mary as a pregnant woman.
Dr. Ralph E. Bell, the president/executive director, said a larger facility has been sought for a long time because of the great need. This new facility increases the number of women and children who can be helped.
“When I got the news that the property was being given to Sheltering Grace, I was overjoyed but not surprised because Sheltering Grace is God’s ministry and we, the staff, seek to be his hands and feet,” he said in an email.
The Atlanta Archdiocese gave the East Point property to Sheltering Grace Ministry without charge.
Sheltering Grace gets about three dozen phone calls daily asking about a place to stay from women. A handful of those can be served by the agency, while the rest are referred to other nonprofits, he said. A waiting list began in January for the 12 beds at the new facility. Bell said he expects the new facility will be filled to capacity within months.
Sheltering Grace is the only dedicated maternity home serving homeless pregnant women over the age of 21 in north Georgia. In addition to a housing program, it supports women with food and clothing, job training, life skills training, regular Bible study and spiritual classes. More than 250 women and families have been served by the nonprofit. Sheltering Grace’s location for the past 10 years has been in Marietta. It will keep that three-bed facility open.
As the organization expands, it also needs more financial support. The ministry has an ongoing fundraiser, “Be 1 of 5,000,” asking 5,000 donors to commit to give $100 annually. That would cover the $500,000 budget. Some 250 people have stepped forward to date to pledge. To participate, go to shelteringgrace.org/be1of5000/.
The East Point facility was dedicated Monday, April 25. It is located at 3409 Washington Road, East Point.