Comfort for Unaccompanied Women

Union Mission aims to raise $1.5 million to house homeless women across I-95

Suzanne Willis, a director of marketing and development for Union Mission gives members of the community a tour of the new facility to house A Haven for Her.
Suzanne Willis, a director of marketing and development for Union Mission gives members of the community a tour of the new facility to house A Haven for Her.
On any given night, about 188 women experience homelessness in Chatham-County, Union Mission president and CEO, Michael Traynor said.

To counteract this social and economic dilemma, Union Mission announced a new capital campaign to raise $1.5 million for A Haven for Her — a public facility to help stabilize unaccompanied women without homes. A Haven for Her expands service delivery to 32 women as part of a new Grace House for Women.

click to enlarge A Haven for Her will be located in the vacated J.C. Lewis Health Care building. - PHOTO BY BUNNY WARE
Photo by Bunny Ware
A Haven for Her will be located in the vacated J.C. Lewis Health Care building.
Union Mission plans to renovate the vacated J.C. Lewis Health Care building at 125 Fahm St. This will be the only Emergency Housing Program for unaccompanied, homeless women along the I-95 corridor from South Carolina and Georgia border to the Florida and Georgia border.

GHFW will be a 90-day program that provides basic human needs, including housing, food, clothing, transportation, access to mental healthcare, employment support and community referrals that will further support the women’s ability to become independent members of the community. GHFW is expected to serve and support over 100 women annually.

Traynor said Union Mission is hoping to have the emergency housing program for women open by January 2022. Traynor said the capital campaign for $1.5 million will fund the completion of the construction project, one year’s operating expense and other expenses from necessary project components.

Women in need of assistance may be referred to the GHFW by other organizations, including the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless, or they may just show up to the doorstep. They will participate in an intake process that includes an interview to access their personal situations and challenges. Next, counselors will help them cultivate a plan to gain footing integrate back into a stable lifestyle.

There will be six mental health counseling rooms within the heart of the facility. These rooms will primarily service program participants, but counselors will be available to community members as well.

“We know that mental health counseling makes a big difference in getting people stable housing,” Traynor said. “If we can get people’s minds’ right, we can make a big difference in their ability to succeed.”

Traynor said the new program will provide comfort to unaccompanied women who would otherwise feel and be unsafe. With GHFW being the only like-program along the I-95 corridor between the South Carolina and Georgia border and the Florida and Georgia border, Union Mission recognizes the need for the new service building.

“We just realized that there was a strategic gap in the community in terms of the services that were being provided, and there is an average 188 women that are homeless on any given night in Chatham-County,” Traynor said. “Forty percent of them have been victims of sexual abuse and 70% on average have been effected by domestic violence, so they need a haven where they can come and feel safe and have shelter.”

Traynor said the women will receive more than a roof above their heads.

“We provide wrap-around services including employment assistance, mental health counseling, transportation, food and all the things that you need,” Traynor said.

The campaign to expand services to unaccompanied, homeless women is off to a significant start with The City of Savannah awarding Union Mission $310,000 through an Emergency Solutions grant authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act through the federal government.

“With your help, and in partnership with the broader community, we will begin to address the need and provide a safe, supportive space for unaccompanied women to transition out of homelessness,” Traynor said.

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About The Author

Brandy Simpkins

Brandy Simpkins is the community/ event journalist for Connect Savannah. Simpkins is a born and raised Savannahian and an alumna of Savannah Savannah State University where she received her B.A. in English Language & Literature. Simpkins enjoys writing more than anything else in the world. She is a curious journalist,...
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