Shelter gets mom on feet (Click title for original article)
Article by: Don Nelson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Sapp eagerly awaits April 29, the day when she and her two young daughters will leave the Athens Area Homeless Shelter and establish their own home in an Eastside apartment – where they will be reunited with Sapp’s fiancé, Maxie Harrison.
Sapp, 28, and Harrison, who has been working and living in Florida for several months, will be moving into one of the recently rehabilitated Habitat for Humanity apartments in East Athens for a transitional period, and hope to move into a house eventually, Sapp said.
“It’s going to be very exciting to move,” Sapp said. “Thirty percent of my income will pay my rent – I can afford that – and I’ll meet with budget counselors while there, and within a year to 18 months, I should have my own home.”
Before moving into the homeless shelter, Sapp, her 5- and 6-year-old girls and Harrison were living in a hotel. Both adults worked, making enough together to cover the lodging costs.
Sapp pursued a part-time job, while Harrison brought in the main income from full-time work. When Harrison got laid off, however, they could not afford to pay the hotel rates, so they had to leave. Harrison moved to Florida to stay with his family and find another job, and Sapp sought help at the homeless shelter.
She’s been at the AAHS for more than three months, and the organization has provided her a chance to get back on her feet.
“They’ve helped me so much with so many different things,” Sapp said. “They helped me get a steady, stable, full-time job, and I’ve gotten a car, which I never had my entire life.”
The AAHS also helped Sapp save 70 percent of her paycheck for the future. Harrison sent some of his earnings to supplement their rent/savings account, she said.
As importantly, the homeless shelter gave Sapp and her family peace of mind.
“My kids have a place to sleep, and my (parents) sleep better at night knowing I’m somewhere safe and clean,” she said.
The AAHS serves homeless women and their dependent children and can accommodate six families or a total of 24 individuals at a time, said Executive Director Meredith Williams.
“They can stay with us for a total of 24 months while they job search, work or are enrolled in an educational program,” Williams said. “The typical stay is around nine to 12 months for most families.”
What Sapp likes about the shelter is that she has had her own bedroom and bathroom for herself and her daughters.
“When I first came to the shelter, I thought it was going to be a big room with a bunch of cots,” Sapps aid. “But I have my own bedroom and own bathroom. I decorated it how I want it, and it makes it easy for me to call it my home.”
The AAHS started in 1986 as an emergency overnight shelter with 10 cots housed in a facility that belonged to the Athens Housing Authority. Two years later, the AAHS opened its 18-bed shelter offering sleeping arrangements to the homeless for more than one night at a time. The agency also expanded its services, offering three daily meals, laundry facilities, clothing assistance and crisis intervention.
During the mid-1990s, the organization began focusing on serving homeless families, but still offered individuals sleeping arrangements in two dorm areas of the shelter. The AAHS also adopted Athens Technical College’s JobTREC program, which offers help in getting a job.
In 2007, the AAHS began providing transitional shelter for homeless single women and their children, exclusively.
The AAHS marks its 25th anniversary this month, and to celebrate, board members and volunteers have planned two fundraising events – a 25th anniversary luncheon and a golf tournament.
The luncheon is scheduled for noon April 19 in the Terrace Room at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Williams will give a brief presentation on what the agency has accomplished and what’s in store for the future. Tickets are $25 and can bepurchased online or by calling 706-354-0423.
For reservations or more information on the luncheon or golf tourney, call (706) 354-0423, or email@example.com