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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Open Arms Village: Restoring Hope - Transforming Lives

By Deacon Mary Delancey

For several years Grace has supported Open Arms Village (OAV) through paper goods drives. OAV provides shelter and support services for up to 28 single men, the largest homeless population in Marion County and the population that struggles the most to find assistance. OAV exists to create a safe community that treats homeless men with dignity and provides for their basic needs.

But it is not a homeless shelter. It is a program specifically for motivated people who want out of homelessness. Responding to the needs of those suffering from extreme poverty, substance abuse and release from institutions, OAV is on a mission to change the lives of homeless individuals in Marion County. They provide programs and services that clients can use to move themselves toward independence, including physical, mental, and spiritual program elements. Time spent at OAV will extend time spent sober, improve psychiatric symptoms and reduce the likeliness of future costs to the hospitals and legal system.

Open Arms assists residents as they re-integrate into our community and provides the tools to maintain self-sufficiency. All residents are helped to build a personalized plan to foster sobriety, mental health, financial independence, and social responsibility. Weekly support group meetings provide motivation and teach new coping strategies. The men receive assistance with legal matters relating to drug use, court fines and probation compliance.

Some members of Grace Church have attended Open Arms Village’s yearly Fundraiser, “Jackets & Jeans,” and have had the opportunity to hear from some of the men who have benefitted from the OAV programs. Many of these men have lost almost everything in their lives – families, homes, careers and often their health and their freedom. Hearing their stories shows that there is hope in even what appears to be hopeless situations. OAV is a faith-based program and through it, God’s mercy shines into the darkest places.

(Mission statement and description of service taken from the website

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