The mission of Rainbow Village is to provide families in domestic or economic crisis an environment in which to rebuild their lives through a community-based transitional housing program.
Women and children are 58 percent of the homeless population, and the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old. More than 20,000 households have been evicted or foreclosed on in Gwinnett County this year, according to courthouse records. Only those who have been there can truly tell the story of the transforming work of Rainbow Village and the future of promise it provides. Here is one family's story.
"When I first came to Rainbow Village, I was broken, scared and had very low self-worth. I was tired of going around the same mountain and was ready for a change, not only for me but for my children. Like most tenants, I went through the usual stages. First I was angry that I had to follow so many rules. I was distant and did not talk, and then one day I blossomed. Like everyone else, I have had my ups and downs, but I feel that without the love and support that I received at Rainbow Village, I would be circling that same ol' mountain of self doubt and insecurity.
"I lost a son nine years ago, and I had never grieved his death. Through the love and understanding that I received from the Rainbow Village staff, I was able to mourn my son's death and was able to release him. I learned that I was not in control. This resulted in me giving my four living children the freedom to become the young men and women that they are called to be. One day my 13-year-old son, Joshua, and I were in the car listening to Kelly Clarkson's song 'Because of You.' The song says, 'because of you I never strayed too far from the sidewalk' and my son said to me, 'Because of you I never even got to see the sidewalk.' Though he was joking in his own way, it was true. I had been so overprotective of my children that I had deprived them from being children. I had home-schooled my children and never really let them experience having friends and socializing. I was set free and was able to send my children to school, and guess what? They did fine! They have all come out of their shells, and it is amazing what just letting go and letting God in will do for your family life.
"I am so thankful that I have had the privilege to be a part of Rainbow Village and be transformed into the mother and person that I am called and destined to be. If anyone out there is blessed enough to be a resident at Rainbow Village, please don't waste your time. Take that time to listen, to learn and to make changes and choices to transform your life."
Bonnie and her children will be moving into a home of their own this month. They will continue to be a part of Rainbow Village through their participation in the after-school program, adult meetings and children's formation classes. Bonnie will become a mentor and role model for new families.
More than 200 families have returned to the mainstream as a result of the Rainbow Village program. Rainbow Village is dependent on community support through volunteers and financial contributions. Rainbow Village is a nonprofit corporation, and all donations are tax deductible.
Please offer your support for the families of Rainbow Village. Visit the Web site at www.rainbowvillage.org for more information and details of the Rainbow Village Auction Gala on Nov. 11. You may also contact Rainbow Village at 400 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross, GA., 30071, or call 770-446-3800. Your time, talent and treasure make a difference to families with children that would otherwise be homeless.
"People Helping People" is a weekly column written by the executive directors of nonprofit organizations in Gwinnett County. Today's article was written by Nancy Yancey of Rainbow Village.
Need help or know someone who does? The Gwinnett Helpline directs callers to the appropriate nonprofit agency. Call 770-995-3339.