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MUST Ministries gets approval for needed facility expansion

A local non-profit that provides food, clothing, shelter and jobs to those in need is expanding its operation.

EAST COBB, Ga. — Since 1971, MUST Ministries has served the people of Cobb County. But through the years, the operations have expanded to include many other communities.

“This organization touches over 30,000 unique individuals each year,” President and CEO Ike Reighard said. “As it continues to grow and needs continue to grow, it's only going to get larger in the future as we serve more counties and have the opportunity to go even deeper in the main counties we serve now.”

He says none of it would be possible without consistent help from people willing to give their time.

“One of the key things that makes MUST so unique to me is that over 11,000 people volunteer,” Reighard said. “Those 11,000 people make a huge difference in how far we can stretch a dollar.”

The organization, which offers 10 different specialty programs, currently has a homeless shelter with 72 beds. That may sound like a lot, but Reighard says the need is much higher.

“We turn away 2-to-300 people a month with 65 percent of those being women and children, and that breaks our heart as much as any single statistic you can unwrap at MUST Ministries,” he said. “Those numbers indicate people and it indicates sometimes very difficult situations that they're facing, and sometimes the difference between having to spend another night in your car with two or three children is whether or not you can get a room at MUST Ministries.”

Credit: WXIA

Good news came recently when the organization finally got approval for an 80-foot variance as part of an upcoming expansion. But, it was not without a few setbacks along the way.

“We needed a variance of 80 feet and the actual people who work for the Marietta Zoning Department both times marked it for approval, but it went before a citizens board and they denied it,” Reighard said. “So the next opportunity for us to make an appeal was to go before the mayor and the city council of Marietta. They were absolutely phenomenal, and they unanimously approved it. I think that says a lot.

Credit: WXIA

He says the expansion will give them nearly double the amount of beds and help them better serve people across the area.

“It's a 6.33-acre piece of property, and we wanted to be able to position the new shelter further off of Cobb Parkway and Bells Ferry Road,” Reighard said. “The beauty of this piece of land that we found - it was already zoned for a homeless shelter which was pretty incredible. It's an industrial area, and so that's why it had that zoning, that opportunity to pursue a shelter.”

He says they plan to break ground early next year, and they hope to have the new facility open by the summer of 2021.

For more on MUST Ministries and how you can get involved, CLICK HERE.

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