Perpetual Center provides food, shelter during storm
by W. Winston Skinner
On Wednesday, the calls were coming in at Perpetual Community Resource Center in Newnan.
There was a couple from Palmetto dealing with health issues — and no electricity. There were people who figured out local motel rooms were booked. There also were some people who just wanted to make sure they understood correctly — that the faith-based center was providing a warm, safe place to sleep and food as a major ice storm left some Cowetans without food or shelter.
Ultimately, three people spent the night at the shelter, but the shelter director and volunteers were prepared for many more — and they are ready the next time an emergency overnight shelter might be needed.
The center is located in a former home that grew into a restaurant and then an office building. It is affiliated with Perpetual Praise Tabernacle of Faith, a small church that also meets on the site.
The shelter technically opened on Tuesday, but early response was from people who just needed food. As ice began coating the county Wednesday afternoon, calls from people who needed a place to spend the night increased. About 1 p.m., a couple pulled up in a pickup and the man asked if this was the place “to get some help.”
Kimberly Monroe, the director of the community center, held onto her incandescent smile as she and volunteers got ready for their guests. There were three places for sleeping — a room for women, a room for men and one for families with children. The family space included a table with stuffed animals and coloring books.
“We know we have families with smaller children,” Monroe said.
“We tried to give them as much space as possible,” she added. She said the center has 50 cots and bedding to go with them. The American Red Cross has stepped in to help them — providing a trailer that contains cots, blankets, thermal warming containers, flashlights, blankets and coffee pots.
Monroe expressed appreciation to the Red Cross. “They checked with us to make sure we had everything we needed,” she said. Monroe said Coweta Emergency Management Director Jay Jones connected the center and the Red Cross.
Elsewhere in the 13,000-square-foot building, pots of simmering soup and chili were atop the stove in the kitchen. “We had frozen soup already prepared in these Ziplock containers,” Monroe said.
Another area had a table with snacks and with portable meals — boxes that included vienna sausages and other packaged items and even military MREs — Meals Ready to Eat that can heat themselves.
Perpetual Praise first saw the need for a shelter during the snowstorm earlier this month. The center helped several families during that spate of bad weather. “One woman actually stayed the night,” Monroe recalled.
Monroe subsequently talked with Derenda Rowe, executive director of One Roof Ecumenical Outreach Ministry, who said she did feel there was a need for such a shelter when the weather is bad.
Plans to help during an emergency go back much further. The center has gotten several small grants and has pledged 10 percent of each toward being prepared for an emergency like the one that came mid-week.
“It helped us to be prepared for things like this,” Monroe said.
The center can use help in preparing for future emergencies. Blankets and other bedding are needed, as well as MREs and other basic foods that can be stored. “We’ll always take water,” Monroe said.
“We really need volunteers,” Monroe said. Male volunteers are particularly needed who can stay overnight, as most of the current shelter volunteers are women.
Monetary contributions are also a way to help. Donations may be sent to Perpetual Community Resource Center, 12 Savannah St., Newnan, GA 30263.
Perpetual Praise’s motivation is a desire to serve and follow Christ, but their services during the storm came without a push to make any kind of spiritual commitment. Their goal is to show Jesus’ love by offering help to those who need it.
Doing so requires planning and flexibility. “During an emergency, we need to be able to function. If you’re going to serve a community, you should always be able to adjust to the needs of the community,” Monroe said.