GAP Ministries serves area homeless

(Featured photo: A volunteer fills a carry bag with food and hygiene items at GAP Ministries. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

The line begins forming around 6:30 a.m. on a typical Thursday outside GAP Ministries.

The food pantry doors won’t open until 8:30, but people wait anyway for food or diapers or to see a nurse. Some are homeless – living under the bridge in a tent or in a shelter. Some simply struggle to make ends meet for another week

“There’s a misconception about homelessness,” said Nomi Stanton, the organization’s executive director.

 People often have an image in their mind that is not always the case. It’s not just single men, she said.

“There are women, children and families” who carry all their belongings in a suitcase and live a nomadic life, she said.

A volunteer talks with a client at GAP ministries. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Thursday is the main day for people to come to GAP, where they are greeted by a friendly face at the door and teams of volunteers help fill some basic needs.

“It’s important to me that there are human angels that work in Augusta to help people. If you drive down Washington Road and you drive downtown, you might be taken with the amount of folks that you’re seeing that you may think are classified as homeless or in need,” Stanton said. “Here at GAP, we’re not about band-aids, but we are actually about true solutions.”

By the time the doors have opened on Thursdays, volunteers have already made a run to the Golden Harvest Food Bank to stock the food pantry, while others work in the kitchen to build “carry bags” with items such as a sandwich, fruit, a roll of toilet paper among other items. Volunteer nurses and pharmacists help with basic prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Families can get diapers for their children,

Volunteers also help people get birth certificates and photo identification.

Stanton said a woman came to them recently who had been sleeping in a field, using her purse as her pillow. Inside were her photo ID and her birth certificate. The purse was stolen.

Without an ID, a person can’t get a job, apply for government benefits, apply to get an apartment. Doors are closed to them.

Getting a birth certificate or ID requires going through proper government channels, and there are fees involved, which GAP pays, and through a partnership with another ministry called Core Life, people are taken to the Department of Driver Services to apply for the government ID (not a driver’s license).

“When you help someone get their birth certificate or photo ID, you’re giving someone their life back,” she said.

And she sees what GAP does as a way to return dignity to people.

“Every human should be afforded that,” she said.

Another simple way to provide dignity is through its adult incontinence products’ ministry.

Often people are released from the hospital and find their way to GAP ministries still wearing their hospital socks, she said, and some need those incontinence items that they may be embarrassed to ask for.

Other Thursday services include counseling on health insurance and Medicaid and free cell phones for those who qualify for those programs.

GAP’s building is also a safe haven for people’s belongings. The ministry provides storage bins, where people can place items for safe keeping.

On the second Thursday of each month, the Ryan White Van for HIV testing is on site and on the fourth Thursday, a representative from the Georgia Department of Health provides information on breast and cervical cancer.  

GAP works with multiple organizations in Augusta. Stanton serves on the homeless task force as well as the Salvation Army advisory board and executive board as its development chair.  

Nomi Stanton stands in a room with over the counter medications at GAP Ministries. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

The offices of Project Refresh, a non-profit that has a mobile shower unit and provides showers to the homeless, is housed in GAP’s building. She wants to work with Project Refresh and area barbers and beauticians to have a day where the homeless receive showers and haircuts.

.Stanton is currently working to expand GAP’s services. The organization recently received a grant to create a laundry room with industrial equipment, and she is devising a Mommy and Me program for  homeless moms and their children.

“I’ve never been a part of an organization that does more good and helps people get back on their feet,” she said.

GAP Ministries was founded in 1979 through a coalition of Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ churches, operating out of the Greene Street Presbyterian Church. After the Greene Street congregation disbanded, GAP purchased the church building in 2014 for use as a mission center, according to GAP’s website.

GAP currently receives ongoing financial support from Advent Lutheran, Central Christian, Covenant Presbyterian, Fairview Presbyterian, First Presbyterian Church Augusta, Reid Memorial Presbyterian, St. Andrew Presbyterian, and Trinity on the Hill Methodist. Donations of money, clothing or food also come from individuals, businesses, and groups in the community, the website said.

GAP also has recently received grant support from groups such as the Community Foundation of the CSRA, the Knox Foundation, the Exchange Club, the Creel Harison Foundation, the Cullum Foundation, the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation, Women in Philanthropy, the J. B. White Foundation and the Widow’s Home.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

Support local journalism: Local stories on local people, organizations and events. That’s the focus of Augusta Good News. And you don’t have to go through a paywall to find these stories. An independent voice in Augusta, Ga., Augusta Good News is not funded by a billionaire or a large corporation; it doesn’t have celebrity reporters who have agents. It’s local people who are invested in the community and want to tell its stories. You can support local journalism and help us expand our coverage by becoming a supporter. Through Ko-Fi, you can give once or set up a monthly gift. Click here to learn more. Thank you!

One thought on “GAP Ministries serves area homeless

  1. Gap Ministries is a blessing for so many in the Augusta area. I help at Gap and have donated items. The army of volunteers that rise up each week to serve the community is astounding since there is so much need everywhere from all ages, all types of citizens. Kudos to the Gap and to Augusta Good News for featuring the positive things that are happening in our community.

Comments are closed.