Southeast Georgia Health System Volunteers' "Christmas in July" Drive Furnishes Tiny Homes

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Christmas is not a time or season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real Christmas spirit.” Busy with our everyday lives, too often we wait until the holiday season to give back to our communities and the ones who need us most. But, fortunately for Hand in Hand of Glynn, the Southeast Georgia Health System Volunteer Services is embracing the holiday spirit this summer.

A local organization with a mission to end homelessness in Glynn County, Hand in Hand of Glynn was selected by the Health System’s Volunteer Services for their Community Outreach Project of 2021. Typically, the group concludes its outreach project in early December but, as Coolidge pointed out, Christmas is not a time or season.

“This year, our volunteers decided to hold a ‘Christmas in July’ service ‘project,” said Kristin Doll, CAVS, director, Volunteer Services, Southeast Georgia Health System. “After several months of planning, coordinating and promoting, the project concluded with a ‘drive-by drop-off’ on July 27th that surpassed all of our expectations.”

Hand in Hand of Glynn’s vision is to build 60 one-bedroom “tiny homes” and a community building on a 4.25-acre property that formerly housed Altama Presbyterian Church on Altama Avenue. Phase one includes having 16 homes ready for occupancy by November 2021, just in time for the holidays. The homes will be equipped with everything a resident needs, including appliances, linens, kitchen basics, cleaning and personal hygiene supplies.

In May, volunteers began selecting items they wished to donate from a list of needed furnishings and supplies provided by Hand in Hand of Glynn. Brunswick Campus volunteers Gene Laurendeau and MaryLynne Cochran led the outreach program.

“As always, our volunteers enthusiastically came together for this project in such a generous way,” stated Cochran. “We had hoped to furnish one home, but that goal was met within weeks. We voted unanimously to take on a second home, and before long, we had surpassed that goal too and were 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. To know that the residents will not spend the holiday season on the streets is invaluable to us.”

Laurendeau believes that the homes will significantly impact the community and change lives. “Many of these individuals, some of whom are military veterans, have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own,” he said. “Life isn’t always fair. This program provides a great foundation for individuals who just need some empathy. This is a chance for them to start over.”

Laurendeau added, “The occupants of these homes will have a permanent address, a supportive community, and the help they need to avoid returning to life on the streets. This is such an impactful project, it is truly a life-changing opportunity for the recipients.”
After gathering and loading up all the donations, the furnishings and supplies were delivered to the “tiny homes” site where a group of volunteers were able to tour one of the homes. As they were walking out, joyous whispers “I’m so glad we did this,” were shared.

Looking for an opportunity to create a little holiday magic? Don’t wait for December to help make someone’s season shine brighter. For more information about Hand in Hand of Glynn or to donate, visit www.handinhandofglynn.org

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