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Flowery Branch United Methodist Church hopes to help homeless with house project
Plan is to renovate, donate house to Family Promise
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Bob McConnell moves a piece of plywood from the front door of a house on Railroad Avenue Thursday afternoon. The house is owned by Flowery Branch United Methodist Church and is currently being renovated. When the house is finished, the church will donated it to Family Promise, a Gainesville-based homeless ministry.

How to donate

Those interested in helping Flowery Branch United Methodist Church’s efforts to convert a home for Family Promise of Hall County can email Bob McConnell at bobfmcconnell@gmail.com or call the church at 770-967-3441 or Family Promise at 770-535-0786.

Flowery Branch United Methodist Church is doing more than talking about how it can better serve the surrounding community — it is taking steps to showcase that message with the long-vacant house next door.

Members are working, along with volunteer labor and others, to convert the single-story, brick structure on Railroad Avenue into the Stepping Stones Transitional House for Family Promise of Hall County, a Gainesville-based

homeless ministry.

“When I got into this, I needed something to keep my mind busy,” said Bob McConnell, project foreman, talking about his recovery from his second back surgery. “All I thought I was doing was helping a house for the church.

“I had no idea until I went to the first (Family Promise) banquet how big this whole story is.”

Transitional housing, as opposed to permanent housing, gives families 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 that house homeless families for a week at a time, while families get counseling services, budgeting classes and other needs met at an established “day center.”

Amanda Ayers, program manager at Family Promise, has said that a lack of affordable, transitional housing for those seeking to escape homelessness in the Hall area is the greatest threat to families becoming self-sufficient.

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 work began to fix up the house — efforts that meant raising money.

McConnell said he estimated it would cost $126,000 to “make the house habitable,” but he’s hoping to get the work done — through donated materials and labor — for about $66,000.

“And I don’t need that much if I have people to donate materials,” he said.

Phil Stewart, communications chairman for the church, said the church has been able to raise some $22,000 but needs more.

“It’s a charitable cause, and we are looking for donations to help finish the project,” he said.

“We’re going to need things like a refrigerator, carpeting, flooring,” McConnell said. “Sheetrock is going to be a big thing.”

Ayers certainly is grateful the church is helping her nonprofit organization.

“Family Promise has been immensely blessed by our partnership with (the church) and the Stepping Stones project,” she said.

 

“Our program focuses on helping homeless children and their families regain stability. The most difficult aspect of this journey is finding affordable housing. (The church’s) leadership recognized this need early on.”


How to donate

Those interested in helping Flowery Branch United Methodist Church’s efforts to convert a home for Family Promise of Hall County can email Bob McConnell at bobfmcconnell@gmail.com or call the church at 770-967-3441 or Family Promise at 770-535-0786.

BY JEFF GILLjgill@gainesvilletimes.comFlowery Branch United Methodist Church is doing more than talking about how it can better serve the surrounding community — it is taking steps to showcase that message with the long-vacant house next door.Members are working, along with volunteer labor and others, to convert the single-story, brick structure on Railroad Avenue into the Stepping Stones Transitional House for Family Promise of Hall County, a Gainesville-based homeless ministry.“When I got into this, I needed something to keep my mind busy,” said Bob McConnell, project foreman, talking about his recovery from his second back surgery. “All I thought I was doing was helping a house for the church.“I had no idea until I went to the first (Family Promise) banquet how big this whole story is.”Transitional housing, as opposed to permanent housing, gives families 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 that house homeless families for a week at a time, while families get counseling services, budgeting classes and other needs met at an established “day center.”Amanda Ayers, program manager at Family Promise, has said that a lack of affordable, transitional housing for those seeking to escape homelessness in the Hall area is the greatest threat to families becoming self-sufficient.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 work began to fix up the house — efforts that meant raising money.McConnell said he estimated it would cost $126,000 to “make the house habitable,” but he’s hoping to get the work done — through donated materials and labor — for about $66,000.“And I don’t need that much if I have people to donate materials,” he said.Phil Stewart, communications chairman for the church, said the church has been able to raise some $22,000 but needs more.“It’s a charitable cause, and we are looking for donations to help finish the project,” he said.“We’re going to need things like a refrigerator, carpeting, flooring,” McConnell said. “Sheetrock is going to be a big thing.”Ayers certainly is grateful the church is helping her nonprofit organization.“Family Promise has been immensely blessed by our partnership with (the church) and the Stepping Stones project,” she said.“Our program focuses on helping homeless children and their families regain stability. The most difficult aspect of this journey is finding affordable housing. (The church’s) leadership recognized this need early on.”

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