To provide an environment that allows homeless families with newborns and young children to grow and develop in a nurturing and healthy surrounding. Genesis enables homeless families to remain together and creates a participatory community in which parents have the opportunity to live with their children in privacy and with dignity. Genesis empowers families to achieve greater self sufficiency. Genesis recognizes individual family needs and develops family plans designed to address the unique needs of each family.
About the Site:
The mission of Genesis A New Life is to create a nurturing, sustaining environment where families with infants and young children who have no place to live can find rest and an opportunity to build a new foundation for their family. The goal is to impact at least three generations, past, present and future. Poverty is a daunting problem with many layers of turmoil and struggle. Homelessness is a crisis where poverty lives. Homelessness is not a person but it catches families in life spaces that are characterized by struggle, suffering, and worry. There is a need for help to alleviate the suffering so the families can begin to grow and develop in a healthy way.Genesis A New Life provides comprehensive, holistic services. We recognize that young families in crisis are an opportunity to facilitate change in a positive way. We provide twenty four hour, seven day a week, three hundred sixty five days a year shelter for eighteen families at a time. When an infant is born into this world without a home Genesis is there. Families stay with us six months and we continue to be a part of their support team for a minimum of two years. The program provides case management, employment assistance, medical support, life skills training, counseling and ministerial support. We have a fully licensed Child Development Center on grounds that is available Monday through Friday to families at Genesis and families in the community. Genesis A New Life has collaborative connections with other programs in the Atlanta area that provide specialized services that help our families get work ready and housing prepared. The Ministry Program at Genesis that is staffed by the Contextual Education Students from Emory/Candler School of Theology is an integral part of how we address the issues of homelessness directly. First year Master of Divinity students choose to come to our site for a variety of different reasons. It is common to hear students who choose Genesis say that they feel a deep interest in learning about working with families in the margins, with issues of poverty and social justice. It is also familiar to hear students say that they were intrigued by the unfamiliar situation of ‘homeless infants.’ The idea itself stirs many a heart to wonder and ponder ‘how can this be.?’
A Supervisor’s Favorite Story:
One of my favorite stories from a student occurred when a pastor who had no real experience with homelessness or with children came to Genesis for Contextual Education. He shared with the group his anxieties and fears early own in an authentic way that validated for all of us in his group the freedom to be real. He talked about how he felt awkward and ‘not knowing’ what to do. I watched over him from a slight distance for a while as he began to reach out and engage. It was the children who captured him. He came to Reflection Group one day with this story. (This is my recollection of what he said.) He said, “I was walking into Genesis with the familiar feeling and questioning thoughts about my value to the community. When I came in the front door some mothers and kids were in the waiting area. Suddenly one of the young boys face lit up and he started toward me shouting, 'Him is here! Him is here! Him is here!' It was later in reflection that I realized that even if they couldn’t remember my name they knew who I was. I was important to them. And now they were becoming important to me!”
As the supervisor I thought this embodied the process of relationship building that is so characteristic of Genesis A New Life. It is not just a new life for the residents. Often it becomes a new life for the ministry students who come and serve with us for 24 weeks. I have often said that working with people in poverty changes me. I become aware of the remarkable strength of spirit and soul that our loving Creator places in us that allows us to suffer, to persevere and to discover hope! Remember: “Genesis is a place of HOPE!”
A Student's Perspective:
"At Genesis, I learned to develop meaningful relationships and offer spiritual assistance to those in crisis. I met incredible women who shared their stories with me. Often their families were thrust into homelessness after a job was lost or a major family catastrophe happened to cause them to fall behind on payments for their homes. Once at Genesis, each family is assigned an individual residence. Each residence bears a positive and inspirational name such as 'loyalty,' 'peace,' and 'power.'
"The greatest challenge I faced was trying not to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the situations I encountered. Although I wanted to fix the problems immediately, I did not need to occupy myself with finding jobs or homes for the residents because Genesis has an impressive record of accomplishment in helping their families in those areas.
"My work, rather, was to be a listening and praying companion with the residents. When I read the names of each of the doors and thought of the families housed within, I asked for God’s blessings for each family. I used the the residence names like peace, power, loyalty, etc., as a starting point for discussion. Through these conversations, I saw mothers begin to move from disorientation to the anticipation of a brand new start.
"My experiences at Genesis prompted me to ponder how the faith community can best respond in matters of family homelessness and how we should answer the call to help. Those of us who have acknowledged our commission to serve humanity can see the crisis of homelessness as a wake up call for action. After the praying, reflecting and discussions conducted in Con Ed at Genesis, I am now committed to working towards eradicating homelessness as a permanent part of my ministry assignment wherever I serve!"