Free child care is aid as homeless explore work

The Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area has distributed $400,003.56 among 34 deserving organizations in the region. The foundation's Unrestricted Grants Program is primarily funded by Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournam

Faith Garnett and her son, Tre, have been homeless for the past few months, but things are looking up.

Garnett has transportation to her new job, and while she works, 2-year-old Tre stays in safe, affordable day care.

At night, they and other families in the Interfaith Hospitality Network sleep at one of the network's member churches.

"It's very positive to be in a church while you're going through things," said Garnett, 22.

Interfaith has been providing safe shelter and a fresh start for homeless families in the Augusta area since 1998.

While parents are working or looking for work during the day, their children are taken to school or attend free Interfaith day care.

The center relies on church partners and private donors for the majority of its financial support, so a recent $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Central Savannah River Area is a huge plus, director Sarah MacDonald said.

Once parents find steady work, the families can move into one of Interfaith's 11 units of transitional housing, while the children remain eligible for day care, she said.

With an emphasis on making participants self-sufficient, Interfaith boasts an 88 percent success rate, MacDonald said.

According to a recent study, Georgia has the nation's fourth-largest population of homeless children, with some 59,000.

"The majority of people are one paycheck from being homeless; you just don't know it," she said.

Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta

MISSION: To mobilize communities to help low-income families achieve and sustain independence, by organizing church congregations to provide support services, training volunteers, promoting outreach initiatives and advocating for adequate housing and support for low-income people.

LOCATION: 2177 Central Ave., Augusta

CONTACT: (706) 364-4462

WEB: www.interfaith-network.com

Helping Groups

SUNDAY: The Lydia Project

MONDAY: Augusta Canal National Heritage Area

TUESDAY: The Art Factory Inc.

WEDNESDAY: Augusta Urban Ministries

THURSDAY: Full Circle Refuge Inc.

FRIDAY: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta

TODAY: Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta

SUNDAY: Rachel Longstreet Foundation

MONDAY: Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center