Ever wonder “where do broken hearts go, when they can’t find their way home?” Or more to the point, where do ex-cons go when they are released from prison facilities in Georgia, but are still in need of assistance to make that all important re-entry to societal living?
If they’re eligible, a fortunate number go to the comfortable and homey environment of a Georgia Care Transitional Housing facility in Atlanta.
Formally established in February of 2012, the nonprofit organization’s president, Gloria Ragin, admits the motivation behind GCTH was part inspiration and part necessity.
“My nephew went to jail … and I told him ‘I want to go into an area where I can help, and maybe open a halfway house. That way when you come out, you’ll have somewhere to go.’ From there I began to get phone calls from everywhere — inmates and their family members — saying they needed help and support.”
The need for comprehensive assistance looms so large and has been made so apparent to Ragin and her partners in the effort, that all agree that they are being divinely led.
While on an outing to secure support services for GCTH residents, Ragin encountered Daldred Mason, a minister who found that he had a similar calling, and a partnership was formed, with Mason taking on the role of CEO.
Enter Pastor Elliot Williams and Dr. R.A. Benson — GCTH’s executive director and CFO respectively — and you have the rest of the administrative team behind the noble endeavor.
Mason laughs when asked about recruiting residents to fill beds at the homes. “I get at least 20 calls a day from prisons right now. … Our goal is to assist in cutting back on recidivism by helping men and women get rid of all of the excuses [for being re-incarcerated].”
Each GCTH home can accommodate 12-15 residents and former inmates are permitted to stay for a maximum of two years. But candidates may begin receiving assistance prior to release from prison. “We are poised to share opportunities with these young men and women who are willing to address their issues holistically, so that when they are released they are positioned to become viable, valuable citizens,” explains Pastor Williams.
“It’s more about changing people’s lives and building on successes,” adds Dr. Benson, “there just aren’t enough people doing this work.” –roz edward
GCTH will host an assistance summit on Aug. 11, from 11 a.m to 2 p.m at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 5445 Buffington Rd., College Park. For more info, visit [email protected] or call 678-460-7749/678-896-3123.