Donate or volunteer
Anyone interested in donating items or volunteering can contact Shannon Imes, president and executive director of Destiny’s Place, at 678-769-0801.
Several Gainesville community members are coming together to build a new place for women and their children.
Destiny’s Place, located at 1058 East Ridge Road, will house homeless teen moms and young adults for six to eight weeks free of rent. The women take this time to look for a job, save their money and learn life skills such as gardening and cooking.
Shannon Imes, president and executive director of the new organization, and Anthony Winters, the construction project director, found the home and decided to transform it for the community.
“It’s in an impoverished area and overlooked. I saw the possibilities of all the rooms and all the girls I could accommodate here,” Imes said. “When I was looking around, I saw that it needed some work, but it could happen. We’ve been building and adding every day.”
Imes, along with several friends and community members, are consistently working on the house and still need volunteers. The building isn’t completed yet, but they hope to install the first family this weekend, a 25-year-old single mom with five kids.
“Everyone has been great, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore has donated furniture,” Imes said. “We don’t have any grants yet, but I’m applying for them and getting our official nonprofit status now. A lot of personal funds have been poured into this.”
Imes, who volunteers as a cook at the Veterans & Community Outreach Foundation C.C. Cloud Youth Center, talks to community members about jump-starting the program.
“When people ask what kids I’m helping, I tell them they’re from here,” she said. “This area is a lot of drugs, a lot of violence, and it’s overlooked and underserved. This place will be for moms ages 14 to 25, for them to come here and come home.”
Destiny’s Place is named after Imes’ daughter.
“While I was working at my restaurant, I had an accident and was in the bed for 20 weeks when I was pregnant with her,” Imes said. “The doctor said if I even got up to fold clothes, she wouldn’t make it. I want moms to know there’s hope and destiny out there.”
Community members are still pulling together funds to pay full rent on the house. Property owner Rick Dean has asked very little for payment and wants to see the program succeed.
“When Shannon came to me and told me what the plans were, I decided I would give them enough time to bring this together and then give a reasonable price so they could stay here and provide a service for women,” Dean said. “They’re going to need help. I believe that anything you give will be returned to you tenfold, and it gets me excited knowing that no matter what happens, God is going to provide the money for it to succeed.”
Winters, who has conducted most of the rebuilding, tries to explain the vision to as many people as possible.
“Some people can’t understand what we’re striving for, and it’s hard to deal with the homeless situation, but we want to reach out to those teen moms and grab them and put them on the right course,” he said. “There’s more to life than street life and all this thug stuff. I’m trying to give back because what I did in my past is in the past, but if I can do better, anyone can.”
Other volunteers, such as Gainesville school board member Willie Mitchell, are offering advice by connecting Imes with local agencies and giving ideas for grant opportunities.
“We have a lot of agencies that do a lot of things in this community, but there’s still a segment of society that’s missed, and you can’t ever have too many people who are reaching out and trying to help people in need,” Mitchell said. “Agency budgets are pretty well spent, and when you have someone else who wants to step up and do things for young children, it’s a great way to spend your time.”
Imes has a vision for the future as well. She already has plans for two more houses that will transition the mothers after they complete eight weeks at Destiny’s Place. Qamire’s Way will encourage women to pay small amounts of rent, learn cooking and cleaning, and develop plans to move into their own home.
In Shady Lane, women should be “completely comfortable” with paying bills and will work with local real estate agents to try investing in a home.
“I want them to know they can do it if I’m on their side, and the support system is what I want to be,” Imes said. “With everything they go through, I am right there to be a survivor and witness to these girls about what’s happened to me.”