The holidays and cold weather normally mean tough times for the homeless community, but one local shelter is determined to turn things around.
The Gateway Center in downtown Atlanta works to end chronic homelessness in a slightly different way than other organizations.
Rather than just giving people a free place to stay, it enrolls them in a customized program that provides support and framework to live on their own.
Vince Smith is the Executive Director of the Gateway Center. "We're actually drilling down and helping them identify the things that contributed to their homelessness and then help them address those issues in a way that will lead them out of homeless because at end of the day we want to eliminate homelessness. That's what it's all about," said Smith.
Some former homeless people who went through the program said it really worked for them.
Russell Thurman went to the center as a homeless crack addict. Now he's a peer leader for people who were once in his shoes. "I probably wouldn't be where I am today. They counseled me, they worked with me, they helped me realize my potential. They made me an all around better person," said Thurman.
Unfortunately Atlanta's homelessness problem is so bad the center needs extra funding to reach out even more.
The center's GIFT campaign is well underway. It's raised $32,000 since Thanksgiving, but is still looking for more. If you would like to donate go to their website www.gatewayctr.org/gift/
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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