photo credit saved by grace facebook

This article is the first in a series that will be highlighting the challenges in serving the homeless in the community of Glynn County. 


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 left alone and overlooked.”~ Saved by Grace Founders

All on Georgia-Glynn recently sat down with Saved by Grace founders, Maria and Donna and interviewed them about their mission.  Here is the original interview.

Upon learning about the number of families that live in the motels in our own backyard, we felt it was important to follow up with the stories of these individuals and families and help address the need here in our county.  Donna and Maria will regularly provide updates to All on Georgia Glynn to educate the public about the homeless population and bring awareness to their work.

Photo credit Saved by Grace Glynn Meet Donna Howard (left) and Maria Gamble (right), founders of Saved By Grace Glynn. Donna is the wife of Tim & mother of Marysa, Jason, Stephanie, Grace & Brady. Maria is the wife of Steve and mother to Lindsey. She works in the hospitality industry & is totally in love with her first grandchild, Addison! We are both passionate about serving people we meet where they are, not after they are “cleaned up” or fixed.

Here is their story:

Change is never “comfortable”, but in this situation, change is what started it all. Change brought Donna’s family to a different church and that is where she met Maria. Who would’ve thought in one of the hardest times in your life you would find exactly where you are supposed to be and find the friend you’ve always needed and shared the passion you’ve always had? That is exactly what happened.

All it took is one coffee outing and BAM! The passion we both shared was obvious & we started helping those in need. Saved By Grace is our passion, our heart. There are nights we don’t sleep, 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. Our dream is to be able to do this full time. It is a daily struggle to know we could be doing more throughout the day, but we are patient to wait on God and his timing of it all.

Saturdays are usually a day to catch up on laundry, run errands, do things that haven’t been able to get done during the week.  But for Saved By Grace Glynn it’s a work day.  The day for “The Grace Project”.  The Grace Project serves those that live in our local motels.  15 motels to be exact here in Glynn County.  We loaded the car with food and basic essentials and headed to our local motels.  These aren’t Marriott or Hilton properties.  They are roadside motels on major highways.

The first motel we came to, a man and a woman came to the car to get food saying they had just been sitting on the sidewalk wondering how they were going to pay for groceries and then we showed up, providing them with some hope for the upcoming week.

The next motel – such sadness, such despair.  Rooms very plain, not the greatest, but a roof over someone’s head.  A bed to sleep on instead of the ground.  Rooms dark, curtains drawn.  Loneliness, hopelessness everywhere.  Kids crying because they can’t play outside, people wondering how they were going to get food for the week. Choosing between being able to wash clothes or buy a loaf of bread. No one taking more than they needed, people surprised that we weren’t asking for anything in return and that what we had to offer was free. People looking out for their neighbor.

At an abandoned motel on Hwy 341, we saw trash left behind from previous guests, toys, shoes, remnants of a life left behind. A fire left this building uninhabitable and displaced many, many people.  We have no idea where they are at, are they in the woods, at another motel?

Motel living is not cheap.  People pay $1000-$1400 a month for a simple motel room.  They do not get continental breakfast or daily maid service.  Most do not have transportation, but surprisingly most are employed.

You see, anyone of us could end up in a motel.  People are here due to divorce, fires, hurricanes, previous incarcerations, poor choices.  None of us are perfect, we all make bad decisions or have at some point in our life.  But does that mean we are less deserving than another human being.  No, we all deserve the same – a bed, a blanket, a pillow, food, basic necessities to make it through every day life.  No one is immune from this type of environment. 

For some, they are content in a motel.  It means no yard work, no upkeep and it works for the single person.  For a family, not so much.  Some of these motel rooms have 6-8 people living in them.  A small room with two double beds.  Most have a microwave and a small refrigerator, but imagine trying to feed your family using nothing but a microwave.  Imagine having no closets, no storage for any of your belongings.  No privacy.  This is motel living – in no way glamorous.  Most of them have closed up their swimming pools, there are no playgrounds, just asphalt and maybe, just maybe a small grassy area. 

These grassy areas have been known to hold needles, syringes, gloves, cigarette butts, etc.  Would you want your child or grandchildren playing in these areas?  Do we want these motels shut down?  Of course not.  If they were, where would our people go?  Not everyone wants to be in a motel, but motels require no credit check, no utility deposits, no income requirements.  Housing in Glynn County is NOT affordable.  People are struggling to survive.  No one should have to choose between food and lights or a loaf of bread or doing laundry.  NO ONE!  No one took more than they needed.  They all left enough for the next person.  No one asked for money, just food.

Some are on government assistance and receive only $16.00 a month in food stamps!  What are you going to do with $16.00?  How can anyone survive that way?

What can you do to help you may ask?  You can partner with us Saved By Grace Glynn.  We are in constant need of canned goods, non-perishables, lunch meat, breakfast food, can openers, etc.  All of your donations are tax deductible because we are a 501(c)3.  Rolls of quarters would help our friends with laundry.  Everyone can do something.  A loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, one little girl simply wanted ravioli.

What we do is not easy.  Many nights, we do not sleep because of what we have seen or heard.  We worry about our people.  Are they safe, do they have food?  In America and in Glynn County, it’s sad that this has to even be a thought.  No one should be struggling for food in this country.

This is reality.

#Restorehopeonelifeatatime  #onemotelatatime

~Saved by Grace-Glynn

For more information on Saved By Grace Glynn, visit their website at www.savedbygraceglynn.com or you can find them on Facebook “Saved By Grace Glynn”. You can also email at savinggrace1616@gmail.com.  By phone – Donna Howard – 912-266-3459 or Maria Gamble 912-399-4724.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
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.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here