Ark doing positive civic work

Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 26, 2019

LaGrange is a community blessed with an abundance of nonprofit entities, focusing on assisting different segments of the community. From the Callaway Foundation to Twin Cedars to LSPA and New Ventures, a wide array of nonprofits have found their niche to benefit the Troup County community in some significant way. As a result of the abundance of nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups in the county, it is easy for individual nonprofits to get lost in the shuffle and not receive the recognition that they often deserve.

One local nonprofit had a moment in the sun earlier this week, when Ark Refuge Ministries, Inc. updated the LaGrange City Council on the organization’s recent activity. Ark sets out to restore the lives of individuals’ and families affected by issues related to, but not limited to, homelessness and substance abuse, and focuses on creating a safe space that empowers people to end their homelessness and create long-term change, per the organization’s website. With a daily Bible study, counseling programs, a GED program and a new Narcotics Anonymous program as well, Ark has been able to assist many over the years in creating a better life for themselves.

During the organization’s presentation earlier this week to the LaGrange City Council, CEO Yvonne Lopez shared updates related to trackable metrics from the last year.

“Between 2018 and 2019, we’ve served over 500 men in Ark Refuge Ministries,” Lopez said. “Right now, we have over 60 men that are living in the facility, and the guys have a host of different skill sets that we can use for them to get different employment.”

Local partnerships have increased in the last year, as have additional counseling services, and the organization has seen a 22 percent increase in the program’s graduation rate.

In addition, LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar also gave whole-hearted support for the work that Ark is doing.

“Seventy percent of the folks that are in prison are substance abuse related,” Dekmar said. “The biggest challenge for us as it relates to recidivism is prison re-entry, and Ark addresses both of those in a very important way.”

Ark is receiving $20,000 in funds from the city during the current fiscal year, and the city council will determine in the coming months how much to contribute to the nonprofit’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Those council decisions are challenging, as there are a host of nonprofits and organizations that vie for city funds that all can make a strong case for city support. In any event, it is always refreshing to hear from an organization like Ark, intent on making our community a better place to live and work.