Photo credit: Saved by Grace Facebook page
On any given Wednesday night, Maria and Donna leave their day jobs and trek out into the community to look for those that are homeless.  Their journeys have taken them to the streets, the motels along Exit 36 or even the woods.
What they have found over the past year and a half is a compilation of heartbreaking and inspiring stories of those individuals that have lost the means to survive and provide for basic needs most of us take for granted each day.
They have found the young and the old, the healthy and the sick, individuals and families, living in the most unspeakable of places right under our noses. Saved By Grace is a nonprofit organization that serves and advocates for the poor and the homeless.
This story by their founders posted on their Facebook page will give you a glimpse into who lives beyond our sight here in our community of Glynn County, Georgia.

Usually our Wednesday’s are spent at the motels, but today we got some calls about people sleeping in the woods and on the sidewalks. Yes, these pictures are here in Glynn & McIntosh county. When asking around about the first camp, we were told “he sleeps in the woods, but he gets a check”. Well, guess what? We don’t care if he gets a check. We set out to find him and discovered a hopeless man, in need of a friend, or in this case, 2 friends. We stood in the woods, talked to him and offered him assistance.

Mr. “J” is 55 and without any kind of support. As he sat on his walker he told us about his life and all the struggles he faces. He has medicine he’s supposed to take, but can’t because he doesn’t have transportation to get to the doctor. He is all alone and without hope. We were able to give him a second sleeping bag to help cushion his bed, which was a pallet covered with an old sleeping bag.

Such despair, such misery, but as always, someone’s son, brother, dad… Our next place we found a couple sleeping on the sidewalk. It had been a couple of days since they had eaten, and that was “burger scraps” from the nearby restaurant. Before we left them we took them some burgers, non-perishable food items, some blankets, socks & a pair of warm pants.

As I sit here in my warm home, under my favorite warm blanket I’m reminded of how blessed I am. We, I, take so much for granted and nights like tonight remind me to be thankful for what I have, even the little things like socks. It’s so freakin’ easy to sit back and judge these people, especially if you’ve never experienced what they face or know someone in their situation.

Maria & I walked away tonight speechless, knowing these people are in the cold, sleeping in places that are uninhabitable. We have experienced these situations almost since day one, but it doesn’t get any easier to see these kinds of living conditions. Some may say “they’ve made their beds with the decisions they’ve made in life”… Well, maybe so, but until you sleep on a sidewalk or on a pallet covered with a sleeping bag, keep your mouth shut. You have no idea what these people face.

You have no idea how much they struggle. Until you sit down with these broken people and know them, hear their stories and struggles, you have no place to do anything but help them. Look at them. Listen to them. Respect them. They are people, too. 

Image may contain: shoes and outdoor
Image may contain: shoes, plant, outdoor and nature
Meet the Founders- Donna Howard and Maria Gamble
Photo credit Saved by Grace Glynn Facebook page
“It all started with a drive through a trailer park and a car ride taking two strangers home…Once strangers, now partners and friends, we are on a mission to change the way people see those that are less fortunate, those that are overlooked and left alone.” 

Donna is the wife of Tim & mother of Marysa, Jason, Stephanie, Grace & Brady. She teaches 3-year olds at a local private school. Maria is the wife of Steve and mom to Lindsey. She works in the hospitality industry & is about to be a Mimi! Each have Monday-Friday jobs and do Saved By Grace (a full time job on it’s own) on the side and in the afternoons and weekends. 

Their mission began in 2016 and was founded for the sole purpose of providing for and meeting the needs of “the least of these”, those that may be overlooked by others. They provide basic needs such as “food, toiletries and furniture while assisting with the process of applying for housing, disability, food stamps, etc. No one will be left out in regards to race, gender, ethnic background, addiction or religion.”

When you visit their Facebook page you will be met with moving stories of the broken and poor.  You will see who they meet in the woods and the motels.  You will be jarred emotionally to hear their journey as they advocate for resources, so that these homeless individuals and families can attain the means necessary to get on their feet and gain hope for a new beginning.

 All on Georgia- Glynn had the gracious opportunity to have a raw discussion with Maria and Donna about their organization’s mission and purpose.  Currently, they advocate for about 600 clients that mostly live in the motels along Rt. 341 in Brunswick.
They are the only organization in town that serves the homeless in motels.  Many of the homeless are families because the local shelter is for adults only and the families are split up if they need shelter.  Many meet the challenges of having no means of transportation to get to a job, no computer to apply for a job, food stamps or housing, and expensive childcare costs.
Although the motels provide shelter, it is expensive and can cost up to $1500.00 a month to live there.  Although many of the motels will let the guests work for their room, one guest gets paid $2.00 a room to clean the rooms.  She has a child that she is trying to provide for and does not have transportation.  Many guests have also sold their cars to pay for their rooms, and once they cannot afford the motel bill, they will move out once again to the streets. This is a viscous cycle.
The focus of Saved by Grace has turned to moving these families out of the motels and into their own homes.  They work with the Brunswick Housing Authority, Gateway Behavioral Program, local businesses and restaurants, government agencies for food stamp and resources and the Chamber of Commerce to work together to help alleviate some of the burden on these individuals and families.
The organization works with resources in the community, but their main goal is to eventually open a homeless shelter or affordable housing in the county close to jobs and childcare.  They are also in need of volunteers to help on a regular basis. “Saved By Grace is our passion. It is our heart. There are nights we don’t sleep because we are worried about our people or wondering if we have “done enough”. At the end of the day, we both know we are doing all we can.”
Do not be afraid of the homeless.  Do not be afraid of the ill or the broken.  They are our brothers and we are united in humanity.
If you would like to assist this organization, here is their contact information:
Saved By Grace
(912) 399-4724

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Carrie Magalski
Carrie Magalski is the Media and Public Relations Contact for All on Georgia- Glynn County. A speaker and the author of "Heaven's Angels" book, her inspiring articles, writings and radio interviews are featured in various multi-media venues. Her leadership roles encompasses higher education, broadcast communications, business, and corporate trainings through Coastal Pines Technical College. She is a seasoned professional with excellent relationship building skills and creates and enhances strategic growth through partnerships with community, corporate and governmental agencies through various multimedia modalities. She is the owner of Immersion Enterprises, LLC- which provides corporate trainings, PR and marketing, as well as ecotourism and experiential education services through Turtle Tides Amelia. Carrie serves on the Board of Directors of Back in His Arms Again, a ministry that helps families suffering from infant loss.


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