In recognition of National Homelessness Awareness Month in November, Oliver Maner LLP, a leading law firm in Savannah, issued a challenge to the community to raise supplies and support for Union Mission's newest project, Parker’s House: A Home For Women.
Oliver Maner attorneys Amelia Stevens and Victoria Nease led the efforts and the law firm's office is overflowing with the results of the generosity of the Savannah community.
Representatives of Oliver Maner presented the donations collected during the charity drive at their downtown offices on Dec. 8 and loaded up Union Mission's van. The items, ranging from soap and toothpaste to sheets and blankets, will stock the shelves of the program for unaccompanied homeless women, set to launch in early 2022.
“We want to thank the Savannah community for their incredible generosity. We expected a strong response, but what happened exceeded our expectations,” Stevens said. "We had to continue to make room in our storage area to accommodate all of the items.
One large donation exemplified the spirit of giving that the challenge sought to foster. Savannah resident Victoria White and her daughter Alethia Edwards brought an entire carload of supplies for the women’s shelter. It was such a tremendous amount, the Oliver Maner team couldn’t let them leave without finding out more about their family and the story behind their gift. It was a revelation.
As a young mother of seven children, White was tragically widowed. Her family struggled but worked together and with help of the community, they were able to remain intact. Now that her seven children are grown with families of their own, they began a family tradition to pool their resources and make a donation to a local charity rather than buy gifts for each other.
“My daughter saw this organization for homeless women on the news and she asked me, ‘Mom, why don’t we do something for them?’,” White explained. The family talked it over and decided that Parker’s House: A Home For Women was the right choice for their annual gift. “I always said, if it wasn’t for someone else reaching out to help us, we wouldn’t be where we are today, able to help others. It is such a blessing,” White added.
Victoria White and her daughter Alethia Edwards joined the Oliver Maner team during the donation presentation to Union Mission.
"Ms. White and her family are the personifications of what Oliver Maner set out to do when it first made the challenge to others to join in and support the fight against homelessness," said Stevens. "While many local law firms and citizens answered the call, a family joining together to make a difference in lieu of giving each other gifts is a remarkable testament to the generosity of our community. Their heartwarming tale of perseverance, gratitude, love and selflessness is inspiring, and a lesson that extends beyond the spirit of the holiday season."
Statistics show more than 180 women each night are homeless in Chatham County. The Parker’s House: A Home For Women's renovated space will have 16 bedrooms and eight bathrooms. It’s designed to provide emergency housing and supportive services to 32 unaccompanied, homeless women for up to 90-days at a time, or roughly 100 women annually.
Once completed, Parker’s House: A Home For Women will be the only facility along the I-95 corridor from Florida to South Carolina dedicated solely to unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness.
Union Mission provides basic human needs for the residents, including food, clothing, transportation, access to mental healthcare, employment support and more. The goal of this program is to help residents maintain stable housing and become independent members of the community.