ATLANTA — It's no secret our city has far more people facing homelessness than beds to keep them warm at night.
For a long time, Atlanta's largest provider of homelessness services saw people trickle out of the shelter system. However, recently there's been a huge shift. More and more people are finding a way to get back on their feet all thanks to one man's vision.
That visionary is Atlanta Mission CEO and President Jim Reese.
Reese leads bible study at the men's shelter every Tuesday. His goal...to breathe hope into the countless number of men facing homelessness.
"I don’t think I could do my job without these Bible studies," Reese told 11Alive's Morning Rush anchor Shiba Russell.
He's been leading Atlanta Mission for 11 years. The organization is a faith-based nonprofit and the city's oldest and largest homeless services provider.
In 2018, Atlanta Mission served nearly 7,000 men, women, and children. Reese said it's an exchange of hope on both ends.
"They give me hope and I then hope that we give them hope," Reese expressed.
Reese calls his shift from corporate America to nonprofit work "God's assignment" on his life. He left the corporate world during the recession and accepted a job to lead the inner-city ministry. Now, he uses his 35 years of management experience to craft a blueprint for permanent change.
"Our teams have built a whole model that deals with individualized services [and] focuses on five areas: how they are doing physically, how they are doing emotionally, and how are they doing spiritually, how are they doing socially and how are they doing vocationally," Reese explained.
Atlanta Mission's Transformation Model walks each person experiencing homelessness through four steps: find hope, choose help, make progress and sustain and grow.
In the end, they hope people will grow spiritually, find employment, become rooted in the community, reconnect with family members and so much more.
Reese said he has already seen a dramatic difference and the numbers back it up.
"I say what I am most proud of...it’s the chance to look to see the number of people who come out of a traditional shelter. Before I came, it was less than one percent. We’re seeing 20 to 30 to 40 percent of the people that come out of our shelter...choose help and make progress," Reese stated.
Reese said his team spent the last four years strategically rolling out customized services at all four of the Atlanta Mission facilities. Now, they're all excited to see how the transformation model will be executed in a soon-to-be built-homeless shelter for women and children.
"I’m proud that we’re building a shelter in the middle of one of the fastest-growing areas in Atlanta and we’re not saying no...we’re saying yes. And we’re saying yes because these people matter, and we love them and we care about them...and we’re going to provide hope," Reese said.
The new shelter is specially designed for Atlanta Mission's new model.
11Alive is proud to partner with Atlanta Mission to make a difference in the lives of women and children facing homelessness in our city. By providing a donation this holiday season, you'll help build the shelter mentioned in this story and automatically be entered in the Building Hope and a Future sweepstakes.
One lucky grand prize winner will receive an amazing home in the Brock Built West Highlands neighborhood valued at $400,000.
Go to AtlantaMission.org/sweepstakes and donate for your chance to win. The sweepstakes ends on Friday, Jan. 3.