Home Again in Henry combatting homelessness locally

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A local organization formed only in the past few months to help combat homelessness is already seeing results in a big way.

A July 15 fundraiser for Home Again in Henry County brought in about $7,300 in just a few hours, according to spokesperson Jea Gackowski. The management of O.B.’s BBQ in McDonough gave the organization 50 percent of its proceeds between 6 and 10 p.m. that evening, and a sizable turnout helped that amount grow.

“It went really well,” said Gackowski, who cited Ben Leher’s work running the event as well as other assistance the group has received from Michael Smith and Lincoln Parks with work on a website.

United Way pledged a dollar-for-dollar match on the money received that night, which brought the total to the $7,300 amount.

“United Way is working very hard to let us make local decisions about local issues,” said Gackowski. “They said if we could raise the money locally, they’d partner with us and keep the money local.”

Two families have benefited from Home Again’s work in just the past few weeks, partly because of this publication.

Gackowski said in a previous story in the Times how the organization caught the eye of a family living in Locust Grove. Both parents were working two jobs and their 16-year-old son is also working while going to school, but the family was staying in a hotel and unable to get ahead because of some credit issues.

After reading the story they wrote Home Again asking for assistance. The family agreed to some stipulations such as financial training through a Dave Ramsey course and some work on family budgeting, and Home Again was able to help them get into a house for about $900 a month instead of paying around $2,000 a month living week by week in a hotel. Radiant Church played a role in that assistance, Gackowski said.

Another local resident who has been working the same job in McDonough for more than a decade was victimized by a scam that left her without a home or the money she had saved to get into a new one. Having vacated her previous residence in anticipation of a move, she was only days away from living in her car with her son and dogs.

Home Again stepped up in this case as well, finding a special rate at a local hotel while giving the client some of the same financial homework as the previous family along with some other basic tasks. In this case, the woman did some legwork on her own and located an available house in Stockbridge for about $500 a month. Home Again delivered the check to get her moved in early last week, Gackowski said.

The common denominator in these cases is that the clients are working. Home Again in Henry County is a unique organization in this area, Gackowski believes, because it is only assisting people who have current employment and can get a letter of support from an employer.

“We want a solution, not a Band-aid,” she said. “I really think that is what makes us different. We give them a plan and they work it.”

One partnership that has been especially beneficial is with Hire Dynamics. In the case of the aforementioned woman who found a house in Stockbridge, this company found work for her son as well.

“They have jobs available in all three shifts,” said Gackowski. “They are just a great local partner.”

Home Again in Henry County has an active Facebook page that is currently the best source of information for anyone seeking assistance or wishing to contribute.