Theyve been living in a hotel with the assistance of the American Red Cross, but their help is about to run out. The First Baptist Church of Cedartown has stepped in to provide a few more days of shelter in the hotel, but come tomorrow, they wont need it anymore.
The family will move in to a house, rent-free for two months, thanks to the generosity of a local businessman, the foresight of a Sunday school class and the memory of a local resident whose compassion for others lives on even after her death.
Olin Gammage, who owns and operates Gammage Funeral Home, first thought that after his grandmother, Doris Gammage passed away in 2004, he would get rid of the house and make way for more parking space behind the funeral home.
On second thought, he decided to turn it in to The Doris House, a safe place that would give people the helping hand they need to get back on their feet.
Susan Campbell is glad he had second thoughts.
One of the things Ive always wanted to accomplish in my life has been to form a homeless shelter. We started talking about it in my Sunday school class at First Baptist, I talked to my cousin Olin and one thing led to
another and here we are, said Campbell.
Campbell said that the initial idea was tossed around in Sunday school, but she said it is in no way a strictly First Baptist thing.
There have been so many people people on the other side of the county who have sent me checks and dropped off furniture. This has turned into something county-wide, she said.
The family who will occupy the house, located on Marshall Street, is a special case, Campbell said.
The church was told about the family before The Doris House was ready for guests, Cambpell explained.
I told our church secretary that it was a shame that the house wasnt ready so the family could move in there, Campbell said, And then she looked at me and said, It will be ready.
At first, Campbell thought getting the house ready in time would be impossible. But she said people around Cedartown and Polk County have crawled out of the woodwork, offering free services, money and other donations.
Plumbing, electricity, new carpet, all that has been donated free of charge. Weve literally got people volunteering, working around the clock to get this done by Wednesday, Campbell said. It is absolutely amazing.
Campbell is counting on that generosity and hometown hospitality to keep The Doris House up and running.
The operation and upkeep of The Doris House is dependent on Cedartown residents. Utilities and basic maintenance will be paid through donations, said Campbell.
Campbell said that once the family gets back on their feet and moved into a home of their own, The Doris House would be ready to serve the local homeless population. There are no hard and fast rules set for the shelter yet, but Campbell explained that it all depends on what people need.
We want to get it set up so that people who just need a place to take a shower can come in and do that, maybe get some of their clothing washed, Campbell said.
Speaking about The Doris House namesake, Gammage said his grandmother would certainly be happy to know her home is
being used to help people.
She was always at church, always talking about mission work and missionaries. She loved children and would do anything to help them, Gammage said. She would be so proud of this.