Aug. 6—Construction of a tiny home village for the homeless in Brunswick is progressing on schedule and should be ready to house its first residents early next year.
Linda Heagy, treasurer for Hand in Hand of Glynn Inc., said the first 20 homes under construction should be ready to be occupied in early January.
In anticipation of the complex opening, Carolyn Johnson has been named director of the tiny home village, which will have 60 homes by the time the project is completed in about a year. Most recently, Johnson served as director of operations and volunteer ministries at FaithWorks Ministry.
"We are thrilled that our project attracted so many qualified and interesting candidates." said Anne Stembler, chair of the board of trustees of Hand in Hand of Glynn. "In the end, we were overwhelmed by Carolyn's good judgment and her empathy for this population. She exhibits the required toughness of mind, but also views people through a lens of kindness. We are confident she has all the energy, experience, and enthusiasm to tackle this important and challenging work."
The prospect of helping the homeless by providing safe living space on a 4.24-acre tract at the site of the former Altama Presbyterian Church on Altama Avenue was one reason Johnson said she was attracted to the job. Some of the homes will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"I am super excited to be a new part of Hand in Hand of Glynn," Johnson said. "With the community's support and with the resources that have been and will be made available from everyone who has stepped forward, we will be able to help many people who are experiencing homelessness. My personal goal is to foster a family atmosphere among volunteers and residents. We want to help as many residents as possible to get back on their feet and improve the quality of their lives."
On-site services will include medical and psychological care, and a community garden where residents will grow their own fruits and vegetables. Nutrition and cooking classes will be offered.
A common area will hold a laundry room, library and reading room, computer room, kitchen and food pantry, classrooms and an office for the executive director.
The goal is to provide permanent homes with the community support needed to help the new residents adapt.
Hand in Hand has raised $3 million in donations and pledges.
Once fully occupied, the new community will save more than $1.6 million a year for services such as shelters, medical care and police custody the residents would have cost taxpayers if homeless.
A fence will surround the village, which will include a gated entrance, emergency access and 27 parking spaces.
The project got some welcome support from Southeast Georgia Health System, which selected the project for the Community Outreach Project for 2021.
"This year, our volunteers decided to hold a Christmas in July service 'project," said Kristin Doll, director of Volunteer Services at Southeast Georgia Health System. "After several months of planning, coordinating and promoting, the project concluded with a 'drive-by drop-off' on July 27 that surpassed all of our expectations."
Thanks to the generosity of hospital staff, the homes will be equipped with donated appliances, linens, kitchen basics, cleaning and personal hygiene supplies.
"As always, our volunteers enthusiastically came together for this project in such a generous way," said MaryLynne Cochran, a volunteer with the health system's outreach program. "We had hoped to furnish one home, but that goal was met within weeks."
The board voted unanimously to take on a second home, and before long, had surpassed that goal too and was working on furnishings and supplies for a third.
"I feel blessed that we were able to get involved with this most worthy community project and that our volunteers have been so generous," Cochran said. "To know that the residents will not spend the holiday season on the streets is invaluable to us."