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Family Promise house in Flowery Branch still needs work
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This Flowery Branch house is being renovated by Flowery Branch United Methodist Church for Family Promise. Family Promise's objective is to provide advisement, shelter, accountability and advocacy to homeless families seeking independence. - photo by Erin O. Smith

How to help

Those interested in helping Flowery Branch United Methodist Church’s efforts to convert a home into transitional housing for the homeless can call the church at 770-967-3441 or Family Promise at 770-535-0786.

Work is moving along, although slowly, in church-based efforts to repair a Flowery Branch house that will be used as transitional housing for Family Promise of Hall County, a Gainesville-based homeless ministry.

Flowery Branch United Methodist Church is accepting donations, using free labor and taking whatever steps needed to convert the single-story, brick structure home next to the church and facing Railroad Avenue.

“My goal is to get the electrical installed in the next 7-10 days,” project foreman Bob McConnell said last week.

Barbara Cook, who is helping with fundraising efforts for the Stepping Stones project, said the project has run into one particular issue.

“The church owns the house, but the church has signed an agreement with Family Promise that they will be able to use the house for their clients for the next 20 years at no charge.”

So, “when we try to raise funds and seek grants, there’s confusion about whether (potential donors) are giving money to … the church or Family Promise.”

Cook said efforts are underway to resolve the problem.

“The church is very committed to this and certainly believes in the mission that Family Promise has,” she said.

Under transitional housing, families have a temporary place to stay while they learn other life skills or save for the costs of a permanent residence.

Flowery Branch United Methodist at 5212 Spring St. is one of a network of area churches involved in Family Promise efforts to house homeless families for a week at a time, while families get counseling services, budgeting classes and other needs met.

The Flowery Branch house has sat vacant since 2005 when lightning, produced by remnants of a tropical storm that passed through the Hall area, struck the house, burned a hole in the roof and fried the house’s electrical wiring.

Later, a church member bought the house and donated it to the church. The building had several possibilities, including use for the church’s youth program, but eventually a member suggested it could be used for the homeless ministry.

The effort has meant identifying many needs, from installing appliances and air conditioning and heating to fixing the plumbing and putting in insulation and drywall — all items requiring money or donated help.

Plenty of work has been done, including plumbing and roofing work, or is on pace, but much is still be done.

“It would be done right now if I had the funding,” McConnell said.

The church is trying to raise money through a GoFundMe webpage.

Also, all proceeds from Zumba classes held by church member Chris Litchfield go toward the project. The classes are drawing some 100-plus attendees per month, she said.

“If you come in and participate, you are doing something for your health and are doing something for our community,” Litchfield said.

Lindsey McCamy, Family Promise executive director, said she’s proud of the effort.

“Homes like this are great for giving (families) a little bit longer to look for (permanent housing), so we’re excited,” she said.

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