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October 4, 2010

Ministry works to provide a sense of dignity

DALTON — Perron Samba found herself living in the homeless tent city on Elk Street a few years ago.

Regular meals were hard enough to come by. Keeping clothes clean and having regular access to a shower was even harder.

But then Samba heard about Dalton’s Greater Works, a nonprofit Christian-based ministry that gives the homeless access to a washer and dryer and showers, as well as dinner and breakfast once a week. The ministry also has a clothing closet and a food bank.

“They are loving and Christian-based,” Samba said on Sunday at an open house at Greater Works. “They’ve been very helpful. I’ve been coming here for a while. I have a place to stay now, but I still come in for meals.”

The ministry opens its doors at 1001 S. Thornton, on Sunday from 7:30 - 10 a.m. for breakfast, Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. for dinner and Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon for showers and laundry. The clothing closet and food bank are open by appointment only.

The ministry is completely volunteer-based and relies on private donations to continue services. The nonprofit, which moved into its current building in February, held an open house on Sunday afternoon so members of the community could learn more about the ministry.

Greater Works began in 1996 when members of the Dalton Church of God wanted to provide breakfast to the homeless every Sunday morning. It operated under the church (which later became Crosspointe Christian Centre) until February when it became an independent nonprofit, said Robert Hill, chairman of the board for Dalton’s Greater Works.

Though the ministry is geared toward the homeless, anyone who needs help is welcome, he said.

The clothing closet allows people to choose up to three outfits every three months up to four times a year, based on the availability of clothing, said Tammy Lisenbee, who oversees the closet.

“We feel that will hopefully meet the need,” she said. “We’re not here to be people’s sole provider, but to fill in the gaps where it’s needed.”

The ministry will take clothing donations, but they need to be in very good condition, Hill said.

“We want clothing you would want back or you would give Jesus,” he said. “We want it to be the best we can give. It doesn’t need to be tattered or full of holes.”

The food bank is “client-choice,” meaning people needing food can pick out their own food, said Beth Ward, who oversees the food bank.

“It’s set up like a grocery store,” she said. “We weigh the food and give them so many pounds at a time.”

Many food banks in the area give people a box of food, Hill said.

“This way we can let them shop and choose what they need, what their family will eat,” he said. “That way if they can’t have peanut butter or dairy (because of allergies) nothing is going to waste. It will be there for the next family to take.”

People can get food from the food bank four times a year, three months apart.

Janet Garner, who was homeless for two weeks, said she is glad to have the ministry in Dalton.

They’ve provided her with more than just a place to wash and eat.

“They have a phone if we needed to make calls, and they have Internet to help look for jobs,” she said. “Anytime I need someone to talk to or to pray with me, they will. It’s really awesome. To have a place like this is awesome.”

The ministry will also begin providing Bible studies on Thursday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. Tammy Fredrickson, who works in jail ministries, will be conducting the study.

To volunteer or to become a church or faith-based partner with Dalton’s Greater Works, or to make an appointment to visit the clothing closet or food bank, call the ministry at 706-529-3757 or e-mail webmaster@greaterworksdalton.org. The nonprofit ministry accepts monetary donations as well as food, new or gently used clothing, new socks (white is preferred) and underwear, tents, blankets and sleeping bags.

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