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Photos Andy Calvert

This holiday season, Hardy Realty is giving back to three local charities. On December 2, they hosted a small gathering to honor The Salvation Army of Rome, The Davies Shelter, and The Open Door Children’s Home. At the gathering, they presented each organization with a $10,000 donation. “We believe kindness can change the world,” Chris Kerr, a Hardy agent, says. “2020 taught us how to pull together, lean on one another and reminded us kindness will prevail.” Each of these organizations works to help the Rome community, and their directors agree that these donations will go a long way toward fulfilling that mission.

The Davies Shelter

The Davies Shelter has operated in Rome for 18 years, providing shelter to members of the community who are otherwise unsheltered. Though it started as a program for unsheltered men, the organization now operates two shelters in town: The Davies Shelter for men and The Ruth and Naomi House for women and children. They offer residents a 90-day stay, during which time they work with a case manager to develop a plan. “There’s an intentionality to what we do so that when they go, we don’t anticipate seeing them come back to us,” Executive Director Devon Smyth says.

In addition to their shelters, the organization also recently added a farm and mobile farmer’s market to provide fresh produce at a lower price, hoping to combat food insecurity. The City of Rome donated the two-acre farm, and Berry College’s Hackberry Lab helped to turn a small school bus into the mobile farmer’s market.

This year has proved a challenge for the shelters in many ways, especially because unsheltered populations are often health-compromised and at a higher risk for illnesses like COVID-19. In March, with the help of other community organizations, The Davies Shelter was able to set up an emergency shelter to house 42 people during the shelter-in-place order. According to Smyth, funding challenges this year led to questions of how to continue to faithfully serve the community. “The last thing we want to do is close our doors and turn people away,” she says. “Hardy Realty’s generosity this year will make a considerable difference.”

The Davies Shelter has several options for other community members looking to help their organization. Smyth says that they are always in need of meals and necessities such as underwear and socks. Their website, daviesshelter.com, also has a donate button for those who wish to make a monetary donation. Additionally, three local shops are selling Christmas items such as candles, ornaments, and art donated by local artists. All proceeds from the sale of these items will benefit the shelters. Find them for sale at Do Good, Yellow Door Antiques, and Over the Moon Antiques.

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Open Door Children’s Home

The Open Door Children’s Homes are care facilities that offer long-term or short-term stays for children and youth who have experienced child abuse and neglect. The boys’ and girls’ homes can house up to 20 youth each. The goal of Open Door is to provide these children with a safe place to call home and a caring environment in which to recover from trauma and work toward a more stable life. 

While staying in the home, youth work with staff to set short-term and long-term goals, develop independent living skills and complete their education. Residents help prepare meals in the home, attend regular counseling and participate in group activities such as field trips and holiday celebrations.

Expenses for the home have increased this year due to the pandemic, according to Executive Director Tracie Ball. Food and staffing costs increased because the residents were home every day when schools closed. “ Ball says that the donation will benefit the children directly. “I would like to have something specific for the kids,” she says. “It could also go toward any Christmas presents that were not purchased by the community.” 

Here she is referencing the home’s holiday Amazon wish list. Available on their Facebook page, this list is a compilation of presents that the youth have requested and necessities for the home such as sheets and towels. Anyone interested in helping the Open Door Home can use this wish list to provide a gift for a resident, or they can donate hygiene products or other home needs to the organization. For more information, visit opendoorhome.org.

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The Salvation Army

Since 1887, the Salvation Army has served Rome and the surrounding counties, providing shelter to those who need it, community meals, social services and more. The Salvation Army also functions as a church, offering Sunday school, worship services and bible studies. The organization’s mission, according to Lieutenant Paula Blevins, is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.”

Though many people associate the Salvation Army with Christmastime, red kettles and bell-ringing, they use that fundraiser to support their year-round programs. “We have a good presence here in Rome, but there’s always room for improvement and helping educate people more about what the Salvation Army does,” Blevins says. 

The organization runs a shelter for men and women, and they also provide social services such as rent and utility assistance, clothing vouchers, winter coats and other items, and a food pantry. Blevins says that they especially saw an increase in food distribution, with some volunteers in Rome even making food deliveries to community members during stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. This year, they also modified their daily 5 p.m. community meal to a to-go format so that people can safely get the meals they need.

A popular holiday program through the Salvation Army is the Angel Tree, which allows families to sign up to provide Christmas gifts for children in need. Community members can pick up an Angel Tree tag from the Salvation Army, shop for the gifts on the child’s wish list, and deliver the wrapped gifts to the Salvation Army for distribution. Those looking to help the Salvation Army year-round can make donations at The Family Store, donate to the online red kettle, or call the office about volunteering. For more information, visit salvationarmygeorgia.org/rome or call (706) 291-4746.

Blevins says that they have seen increased need for their services in 2020, so they are very thankful for volunteers and for Hardy Realty’s donation. “This donation will go a very long way to help fund so many of these programs… throughout the coming year that help the homeless to have shelter, to help hungry have food, and to help… the most vulnerable people that we have in our communities, whatever their needs are.”

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