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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Rainbow Village looking for sponsors, new home

The mission of Rainbow Village, a nonprofit organization based in Gwinnett County, is to provide families in domestic or economic crisis a healing environment to rebuild their lives through a community-based transitional housing program.

"Rainbow Village is not an emergency housing provider," said Deborah Pelham, resource development director for Rainbow Village. "We are the next step. Families who apply for our program are ready to take the initiative and be accountable for their own future. We require that families own a car and have a job. While in our program, families are required to save money for their future housing needs. Typically families are in our program for a year and up to two years.

"We have a 95 percent success rate of transitioning homeless families into the mainstream community. Right now I am looking for corporate sponsors willing to work with us on some incentive programs which would make continued attendance in our after-school program desirable, possible, and attractive to the pre-teens and teenaged children of the families who've 'graduated' from our housing program. In order to truly break the cycle of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence, we have to continue working with the kids."

Within the past few years, Rainbow Village has gained accreditation by the Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness through its Quality Enhancement Standards program.

In this same time period, Rainbow Village also hired program director Lynnette Ward, a 1997 graduate of its transitional housing program. As a program participant and longtime volunteer at Rainbow Village, Lynnette has personal experience with the types of programs that are most beneficial to residents.

More recently, Rainbow Village has hired two additional employees: Pelham as resource development director and Clarence Moore as operations manager. Both Deborah and Clarence have extensive experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Chris Ladson will also be joining the staff of Rainbow Village as the children and youth program director.

"Based on our strategic plan," said executive director Nancy Yancey, "right now one of the primary goals of our board of directors and our staff is to find either an existing property or to find some land to build a new complex that would serve as an all-inclusive campus so that our housing, our programming and our offices would all be in one place.

"Every time we drive by a nice property zoned for mixed-use," she added, "we think how wonderful a piece of property like that would be for an organization such as ours. It would be close to businesses, bus lines, major roads, retail, manufacturing and offices. All of these things are important considerations for families such as ours who are struggling daily with transportation, child care and work-related issues."

At 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13, at the Gwinnett Place Marriott in Duluth, Rainbow Village will be hosting its annual Gala, one of two major fundraising events it sponsors each year.

"The Gala is so much fun!" said Kat Goddard, this year's volunteer Gala committee chairperson. "The food, the music and the dancing are all fabulous. And people really get excited about the live and silent auctions. It's a great opportunity to get a good deal on some wonderful vacation getaways, unique home furnishings, and one-of-a-kind packages, and of course all of the money raised goes to support Rainbow Village."

To find out more about Rainbow Village or to purchase sponsorships and tickets for this year's Gala: "A Masquerade - Changing the Face of Homelessness," call 770-446-3800, go to www.rainbowvillage.org, or stop by and visit at 400 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross.

"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.