Garden City Rescue Mission opens women and children's center

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December 20, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The homeless are turned away from packed shelters almost every night.

Many of them are women and children.

Garden City Rescue is giving some hope to those women and children, just in time for Christmas.

Imagine being homeless. Now imagine having five kids and being homeless. In Augusta, there is limited shelter for women and children, but one dream is now opening the door to Augusta's homeless women and children.

Garden City Rescue Mission wants to cut Augusta's homeless problem.

In 2001 the shelter opened, but only for men.

After hearing heartbreaking stories from homeless women and children, director Suzie Greene says it was time to go upstairs and make room.

"Especially here lately we've had girls 17 and 18 years old, pregnant, nowhere to go out there on the streets but themselves," she said.

Lorraine Schroeder volunteers her time to make the shelter a home for the women and children who come.

"I believe everybody has to come in and see the truth and then you appreciate what you have," she said.

Suzie Schroeder's son Travis Sharpe opened the shelter after ministering to the homeless.

"There was no ceiling--just a bare roof and brick walls," he recalled.

He remembers one encounter that made him want to help: "I said, 'With a good job and a couple of paychecks, you could be out of here,' and he said, 'And you miss a couple of paychecks, and you could be here with me.'"

Five years after the men's center opened, the women and children's center is ready upstairs.

It includes dormitory rooms with beds, cribs, and even a play area; a kitchen; and a dining room.

"Get them out of the environment they are in, show them different life skills and give them some budgeting skills," Greene said of the center's goals. "Show them how to put make-up on and get a job."

It's about giving back hope and allowing those the homeless to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"We wanted to do something to get the women off the streets and give them another chance to life," Greene said.

Garden City Rescue will begin distributing food, clothing, and advice to women and children immediately. In about two weeks, the shelter will open for overnight care.

Until Garden City Rescue Mission opened its women's shelter, the Salvation Army on Greene Street was the only family and women's emergency shelter.

They tell us they are relieved to have some help.