“Giving the community a sense of hope”

LaGRANGE – The city council held its regular work session at the Ark Refuge Ministry on Tuesday to recognize the work done at the location and to hear about the progress at the ministry that has received the support of the council in the past.

“It is really giving the whole community a sense of hope, and we are excited and thankful for that,” said Ark Refuge Chief Executive Officer Yvonne Lopez. “… Now I want you to know that Ark Refuge Ministries is an asset in the Calumet Village and in the community, and not only in the community, but in the whole state of Georgia.”

The men in the program come from all over the place with individuals from not just LaGrange, but also Florida, Alabama, other parts of Georgia and even Haiti entering and the program.

“We are really proud of the improvements that we have made, and we have made some adjustments to our programs where we’ve added (to them),” said Denise Matthews, who works with Ark Refuge. “We had a computer lab built in 2015. We’ve added financial literacy classes that were added in 2016. We’ve added behavioral thinking classes where we give the guys a moment to just try to figure out why they were where they were and in which direction they need to go in, so we’ve really improved on the educational side of the program to ensure these guys have the information that they need, so that they can go outside in society and be successful.”

In 2016, the ministry had about 15 men graduate from the program, and already have several men on track to complete the program this year. Along with the program for individuals fighting addiction, Ark also serves the community through a soup kitchen with the help of Feeding the Valley. The ministry also partners with its neighbors in Calumet Village and Rosemont Church to use Calumet Park as an activity space for local youth.

“The fact that you all (at Ark Refuge Ministry) are partnering with these partners, that is really what we want to see,” said Councilwoman Norma Tucker. “… That is what it is really about: partnering to better serve the citizens.”

The group also partners with New Ventures and Pathways to help serve the community.

“LaGrange is a community that has a lot of caring people,” said Mayor Jim Thornton. “It really has a lot of people who do a lot of good work, and it is always great to see them working together as well.”

To learn more about Ark Refuge Ministry or how you can help call 706-845-0335.

In other Calumet news, the city council tabled the vote on the rezoning of four properties within Calumet Village during its regular council meeting in order to give the developer, city staff and neighbors more time to come to an agreement on the rezoning that was agreeable to everyone.

The city council is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, April 11 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Ave.

 

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.

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