By GENE ESPY
The Hope Rebirth Homeless Shelter might be “homeless” for its longtime volunteers Gail Rush when she retires after nine years. She has been instrumental with the work that has been done to make the Shelter successful and helping the needs of those who find themselves homeless.
Mrs. Rush has been with the shelter since its inception in 2011.
The board gave the group wanting to begin the homeless shelter permission to bid on the property.
Affinity Bank in Atlanta bought the property on the courthouse steps.
The local group was successful in finally getting a realtor to accept $75,000 instead of the $100,000 asking price.
To raise the money for the property, Rush and lots of volunteers raised the money needed from a Tillotson Grant, Mohawk and other contributors like Mt. Vernon, individuals and churches. Fundraisers were also held.
“Stephanie Brewer was a tremendous help in this effort,” Mrs. Rush said.
For one fundraiser, Mrs. Rush was able to get famous gospel singer Ivan Parker from the Gaither Series to come twice and do concerts.
Hope Rebirth is non-profit, supported solely by churches, individuals and businesses. It receives no state, county or federal funds. No staff member gets paid. Through the generosity of others, this mission is able to help many people through their hard times in life.
“Through the years I have made several speeches, slide presentations at churches, civic groups, etc., to raise funds and familiarize people with Hope Rebirth Homeless Shelter, Mrs. Rush said.”
She has written several grants and was successful in getting them approved to make improvements at Hope. Some of the grants were: North Georgia Electric grant; four Tillotson-Menlo Grants, one each year to help buy building, to update heat and air units; to replace more outdated heat and air units and to build men’s updated shower room and build a new shower room for ladies.
“In the beginning, we encouraged churches and individuals to “adopt a room” to get it ready for occupancy,” Mrs. Rush said. “I am proud to say Midway Baptist Church adopted and renovated the very best room and got it ready for occupancy.”
Early on, many volunteers worked really hard to build racks, shelves, etc. for four thrift stores in the building.
They were really nice: a men/boys clothing room, a ladies/girls clothing room and a household items room.
“But, alas, the state inspector came and said, ‘Cannot have but one thrift store unless you put in a ‘sprinkler system.’” She continued. “To our sorrow, all that work was in vain and we had to close three stores and condense them to one.”
Hope Rebirth Homeless Shelter has always looked for ways to save money, Mrs. Rush said. Another volunteer managed to get Hope changed from business/commercial to residence with a utility company and was given back $5,000 from this company. Of course, the monthly bills are lower, too.
“We were able to drop another company and make a package combining two packages,” she added.
Rush has served as President of the Board for many years and the last few years as financial secretary and any other post that was needed. She added that Adam Evans has been a tremendous help in this area.
“I have a real “Helping heart” and I have found out people will help if they are approached in the right way and the need presented well,” Mrs. Rush said about her time with the Shelter, “I helped two residents get vehicles to get to work.”
Rush’s husband and son have worked hard in the first years of Hope Rebirth doing whatever was needed.
Hope Rebirth had a small float in a Christmas Parade that was pulled by Miss Daisy, Mrs. Rush’s Model A. Residents rode the float and enjoyed it.
On June 9, 2012 Rush was presented with a plaque from Hope Rebirth and a hall was named for her.
“Also, my husband and I were presented with a Hometown Heroes plaque from Modern Woodmen,” Mrs. Rush said.
By GENE ESPY