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Banquet celebrates success of local transition program

A special banquet hosted by Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, Jr., was held recently to celebrate the success of Transitional Ministries in Thomson. Approximately 55 local citizens, ministry officials and recipients attended the banquet, held on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the First United Methodist Church of Thomson.

"Thomson has been a great success because of the support group y'all have here," Sara Evans, the director of community relations for Transitional Ministries, said at the banquet. "Thank you all for what you've done for us."

Ms. Evans works out of the Atlanta office, and said that Transitional Ministries is one of seven ministries under the umbrella organization, Action Ministries. Transitional Ministries provides housing and supportive services to guide and move a family into self-sufficiency. There are 32 transitional houses in Georgia. The one in Thomson is owned by the First United Methodist Church of Thomson and is located on property donated by Jerry Williams.

Mayor Knox said Action Ministries provides monthly rent payments for the house, along with a small portion from the occupant.

"So we don't have to budget things in the church budget for the upkeep of that facility," he said.

The program assists needy families by providing housing for two years. During that time, the recipient goes through counseling with a case manager who helps them set goals and holds them accountable to reach those goals. Goals vary according to the recipient's situation, but include securing a reliable job, getting the required education to keep a job, and locating child care. Budget counseling and accountability also teaches the recipient to put 10 percent of their income into a savings account and 20 percent back into the Transitional Ministries program.

"It's more than a roof over their heads," Mayor Knox said. "It helps them get on their feet, get a job, and live life like it's supposed to be lived."

In it's nine years of existence, the Thomson Transitional House has helped seven families go on to secure their own housing and become self sufficient. The eighth and current resident, who asked to remain anonymous, gave her testimony at the banquet. The 37-year-old single mother told of the day she received the phone call telling her the house was available.

"From that day on until now, I'm living the best life I ever had," she said. "People love me for me, which I've never experienced before. ... I've got a house. I've got a job. ... I've got a (car), and it rides good."

Mayor Knox explained that Transitional Ministries does not compete with other programs, but works with them. Other programs under the Action Ministries umbrella include: Athens, Atlanta and Augusta Urban Ministries, which provides food, emergency assistance, legal assistance, children's programs and nurse checks; Breakthru House, Inc., which provides residential treatment for women recovering from alcohol and drug addiction; and Gainesville and Rome Action Ministries, which provides emergency assistance and crisis food pantries.

Mayor Knox said donations to the Thomson Transitional Housing Ministry can be made through the First United Methodist Church. There are no regular volunteer hours, but volunteers may sign up through the church's mission work team.

According to B. J. Reid, the case manager for the Thomson house, funds and volunteers are used to provide legal assistance, facility maintenance and yard maintenance of the house, because the occupants are usually ladies with small children who cannot do the work themselves. For more information, call Mayor Knox at 706-595-1841.

Web posted on Thursday, November 29, 2007

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