Volunteers Turn Small Space Into Comfy Home
For as long as I can remember, I have felt led to help girls. When my friend, Kim Welsh, came to me with the opportunity to help create a personalized space for a young lady who was making the move from transitional care to independent living at North Georgia Angel House (NGAH), a group foster home for girls ages 12-21, I knew I needed to be involved. I knew we could bring our community together to create a home for Bee (name changed to protect privacy).
As a college student, I started a girls club with a friend. Times have changed since those summer days of 1985, but my desire to help develop girls into strong women of good character has not changed. I have daughters who have become strong women of good character. But, I know all girls don’t have the family support system that allows them to grow and flourish. As an educator, I know what broken looks like, what girls who live in broken support systems look like. Helping girls become strong women is my “why.”
NGAH’s mission is “Giving girls roots. Giving girls wings.” The nonprofit already had been involved in Bee’s life for four years when Kim and I began creating a home for her. Bee came to NGAH at 14, along with her younger sister, due to significant family issues. Bee was an addict and had been bounced around from foster home to foster home most of her life. While at NGAH, she became clean, was baptized, gained employment and graduated from high school with plans to attend Chattahoochee Technical College. NGAH gave Bee roots. As she was turning 18, the year when foster children age out of care, it was time to give Bee her wings to fly.
Thankfully, transitioning into independent living is fully supported by NGAH. The organization built a small apartment building with six units to house girls who qualify for independent living. NGAH Executive Director Susan Worsley explained that they create a contract with girls who are moving toward independent living, with the reward at the end being one of the apartments on campus. Bee had fulfilled her end of the contract and was ready to move into her apartment on her birthday in late July.
Kim and I went straight to work. We learned about Bee’s personal interests and began planning the decor for her apartment. Worsley described Bee as an “old soul” who loved ’70s female rockers … think Janis Joplin, Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks. We created inspiration boards for each space (living room/kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom) around Bee’s interests.
We put out calls on social media asking for donations to purchase the needed items. Overwhelmingly, our requests were fulfilled by friends near and far through monetary donations ranging from $10 to $100, paint and labor, and decor items that fit the theme. The support of our community not only made it possible for us to create a home for Bee, but it also filled our hearts!
The apartments at NGAH are small, like the space in a dorm room. So, the work happened very quickly once everything was collected. Kim and I, along with a few others, transformed Bee’s apartment from the basic space, identical to the other five apartments, to an individualized, inspirational and comfortable home. Not only was Bee thrilled with her new home, but her apartment has become the talk of the town around NGAH.
Kim and I know our work to help create strong girls is not done. If you are led to help NGAH, there are many needs that people willing to share their time and talent can meet, including teaching a class, making repairs to the facilities and grounds, or decorating other apartments. NGAH survives on donations from our community. To learn more, visit www.angelhousega.com.
I encourage you to find your “why” and get busy being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. It will fill your heart, and you will be blessed.
– Cindy Crews, left, and Kim Welsh met as neighbors in Eagle Watch and have been friends for 30 years.
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