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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Rainbow Village breaking summer drought

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

By Nancy Yancey

Rainbow Village is a transformational housing community for homeless families with children located in Duluth. Most of the heads of households at Rainbow Village are women fleeing lives of domestic violence and poverty. They are not just seeking a safe place to live but also the opportunity to craft a new life for themselves and their children.

Rainbow Village has set in motion a true "village" model where homeless families can find refuge, recover, and learn to rebuild their lives with the support of a community-based family surrounding them. Rainbow Village doesn't just provide a quick fix in times of crisis but offers a long-term program that includes support services for the whole family including life skills training, character building, counseling, career development, after-school programs, financial education, and more.

The goal is to break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence by teaching adults and children to believe in themselves again, to chart a new course, and to work a plan that enables them to once again be self-sufficient. Susan’s family is only one of the more than 300 families (or 700+ men, women, and children) that have found new life at Rainbow Village.

Susan’s story of resilience

Susan is a soft-spoken mother of two children who fled an abusive relationship and was homeless for nearly a year before finding a home with Rainbow Village. She and her children had moved from shelter to shelter, often spending only one night in a familiar place.

Because she did not have stable housing, Susan found herself unemployed and began a downward spiral that would last three more years. During that time, her children attended more than 10 different schools.

Susan was not raised in a household where abuse was even an issue, and for many years after she was married, she didn’t know where to turn. Only when she began to fear for the life of her children did she muster the courage to leave. Her husband was controlling and abusive. He often didn’t allow her to leave the house and beat her if his food wasn’t prepared the way he intended.

Through a friend, Susan heard about Rainbow Village. Once ensconced at Rainbow Village, surrounded by community, given tools for achievement, and a chance for hope, she began to feel safe again. Her children excelled at school and learned to trust. She is now proud to be an active and engaged member of the Rainbow Village community and is helping others to break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence.

Rainbow Village Angels provide the gifts to make it possible for Susan’s family and others like them to find peace and stability. Our Angel fundraising goal for this summer (ends September 21) is $50,000. Your investment in families will help establish a financial pipeline that will clear up our annual summer giving drought and allow us to continue providing premium services to support our residents, like Susan.

Your Angel gifts allow Susan and others like her a chance for a new beginning. For more information, visit www.rainbowvillage.org or call 770-497-1888. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein - ellen@gwinnettcoalition.org or at 770-995-3339.