Lemons spreading message of hope at Miracle Mission Hope House
By Jason A. Smith
Marlene Garrett Lemons has a goal to use the struggles and triumphs of her life to make a difference in lives of people who are where she once was.
Marlene Lemons, executive director of the Miracle Mission Hope House Inc. Photo by Seth Jackson
The reason for this, she said, is because of a “joy and passion” for serving others.
“Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you have to wallow in it,” continued Lemons. “You can get up and move forward.”
Lemons, of Ellenwood, is the executive director of the Miracle Mission Hope House Inc., at 466 Simpson St., in McDonough. She says the facility, also known as MM Hope House, is designed to address a number of crucial needs for area residents.
“Our mission is to eliminate hunger, foster hope, promote self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families of Henry County and surrounding areas,” said Lemons, 55. “We serve between 500 and 700 individuals a year, providing food, clothing, and toiletries. We also do referrals, GED preparation classes and basic computer skills classes for seniors along with other supportive services.”
Lemons said her “target market” for MM Hope House is women and children, but that she does strive to reach out to all demographics.
“The vision that we have is to create an environment where businesses, individuals and faith communities partner together to gather resources and to alleviate hunger and homelessness,” she explained.
Lemons grew up in Monroe and has been involved in ministry for the last 26 years. Her journey toward empowering others began in the ninth grade, when she got pregnant at age 16 and quit school. She returned to school in 1978 and obtained her GED.
“I took the test one time and passed the whole test without any preparation classes,” said Lemons. “That encouraged me. I felt like if I can do that, I can go further.”
She later attended Beulah Heights University in Atlanta, obtaining an Associate of Arts degree in Biblical Education in 2007 and a bachelor’s degree in Leadership Administration in 2011. While attending school, her life experiences led her to write a pair of books. The first is titled Pain-What Did It Do To You? Make You Bitter or Better.
“I was compelled to write it because I believe it can help those that are dealing with the feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, despair and depression,” she said. “Everybody wants to be loved, and my story provides a sense of love, hope, purpose and fulfillment.”
Lemons followed that book with Transitioning for Victorious Living, published in 2008. She received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Capella University in 2014 and is preparing to pursue a PhD in Human and Social Services at Liberty University.
Throughout her career, Lemons said she has worked to be “transparent” and to use the experiences of her own life to improve the lives of those around her. To that end, she incorporated MM Hope House in 2004 and formally launched the organization in 2005.
Lemons, along with a number of volunteers, started by serving homeless people at Mt. Zion Holiness Church in Atlanta for about two years. The group then moved on to Georgia Piedmont College to become certified GED instructors.
“Since that time, MM Hope House has grown to serving over 400 clients a year,” continued Lemons.
MM Hope House has established partnerships with Home Depot, Sam’s Club and United Way 2-1-1, as well as churches in the area, to provide basic necessities for struggling families. Lemons says economic woes in recent years have heightened the need for the services provided by MM Hope House.
Lemons emphasizes the need for the community to support MM Hope House financially.
“We thrive on donations,” she said.“We have not received any major grants. Most of our donations comes from individuals. Not having the proper funds can be very challenging at times. We encourage everyone to support our efforts and help us help others by donating today!”
Lemons added that she is thankful for the volunteers at MM Hope House, and proud of the work she has done in gathering resources – including the National Christina Foundation, Connecting Henry and Connec-ting Atlanta -- to serve the community. She hopes to leave her mark in the community in several ways.
“I really hope that my legacy will be that I reached out to make a difference in the lives of others, and that my ministry changed lives tremendously,” she said. “My personal vision is to be remembered when I’m gone from this life for enjoying every day I was blessed with; impacting every person that I had the pleasure of meeting in a positive way; inspiring all to make a decision in life to be productive citizens and their life’s work be something that is truly fulfilling, enjoyable and meaningful to them; motivating people to be innovative and to use the power of their creative minds; providing resources and tools to make that happen; loving, caring and sharing with others to make sure they remember each day they had with me; helping people to know that God loves them and He has given his life so they can live a life separated from corruption and deception.”
Lemons has been a member of Saints Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church of God in Monroe for 44 years. She and her husband of 40 years, Larry, have two sons and 10 grandchildren.
For more information, visit www.mmhopehouse.org, or the nonprofit organization’s Facebook page.