News & Updates
It is with profound sadness that we say goodbye to our founder and champion for the homeless, Mrs. Sarah Stewart. She passed away yesterday morning at the age of 83. To know Mrs. Stewart was to love her. She radiated kindness, compassion, and love wherever she went. She never seemed to meet a stranger but instead met everyone with open arms and a great big genuine hug. It was her servant’s heart that led her to open up her own family’s home to eight elderly homeless men from the streets in 1976. They were the first residents of what would become The Stewart Community Home. Her vision for serving those most in need with no place to go is the driving force behind what we do at the Stewart Home. And we know that her light shines on here where hope and grace can be found and where lives are continually changed for the better. Her life’s work and her legacy will live on, and we will continue to honor the name of the one who started it all with the first homeless shelter in our community. To the angel who walked among us… Mrs. Stewart, you will be greatly missed.
On Thursday, November 1, we will be celebrating the life of Mrs. Sarah Stewart with a memorial service at the Stewart Community Home. The service will be held at 2:00pm. Please come join us to remember this amazing lady who spent her life serving others.
A Visit from Congressman Drew Ferguson
Last week, we were thrilled to welcome Congressman Drew Ferguson to the Stewart Home. He came by to take a tour of the Home and to find out more about what the Stewart Home does for our community. He emphasized the need for care for the homeless including veterans as well as treatment and support for people suffering from mental illness. We know how important our work is here and how much we make a difference in the lives of people everyday, but it is rewarding and reassuring when you have the encouragement and support of your state’s U.S. Representative. Thank you for your visit, Congressman Ferguson!
If you would like to come by for a tour and to learn more about the Stewart Community Home, please contact our Development Director Melissa Buice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-507-7034. We are very proud of our Home and would love to show you around!
Congressman Ferguson shown with Stewart Home board chair Denise Fortson, Executive Director Kara Vinzant, Columbus City Counselor Bruce Huff, and board members Charonda Huff, John Stacy, Roger Lotson, Terry Reis, and Brandi Hett.
A Success Story
“Are you proud of me?” she asks.
As I look into her eager face awaiting my answer, her story comes flooding back to me. In her eyes I see the tiny girl of 8 that she was when the abuse began. Her mother had passed away, and she was left with family members, one of whom sexually abused her until she was about 14. By then she was already a very lost and very damaged little girl. She dropped out of high school without any hope of ever finishing and never learning to read very well. Her dreams had been dashed. In the years following, she struggled with alcohol and substance abuse and ultimately found herself in a very dark, desperate place all alone. She had no family to take care of her, no friends to count on to help her. Sleeping on the street for some time, she was brutally raped multiple times and began to feel completely worthless. Because her body had never been her own and because of the self-loathing she felt, she decided to prostitute herself in order to make money to survive. If anyone has ever truly been at rock bottom, it was her. She began living at the Atlanta Airport where she had a chair to sleep in, a bathroom, and easy access to beg for food. She was soon arrested for loitering, and then she was evaluated and sent to a mental hospital. Upon release, she came to the Stewart Community Home where she says she was shown a lot of love and support. “It felt like a home to come home to. I wasn’t asked to do anything except take care of myself.” And take care of herself she did. Through counseling and rehab programs, she is now clean and sober. She joined a nearby church with another resident who had befriended her, and she gave her life to God. She got to know the pastor of the church who became another driving force to help her turn her life around. That was 5 months ago. Yesterday, she moved into her new little house with furniture that people have helped her gather. With household donations to the Stewart Home, we have been able to help her with bedroom furniture, kitchen necessities, and other simple home decor, and her new church helped her with living room furniture. She starts her new job housekeeping at a hotel this week as well. If you ask her how she is doing, she will say, “I love my new life. I learned to be honest about my struggles and build relationships with positive people who will build me up and keep me close to God. I have learned that I can be loved unconditionally and that I do get a second chance at life.” As we helped her move in, she could not stop looking around and bursting into tears at all that she has now. It’s not just the house or the stuff in it. It’s how far she has come from where she was. It is the hope she has for her future instead of the hopelessness she felt in her past. It is the life she has ahead of her instead of the one she left behind.
So when she asks, “Are you proud of me?”
What more could we have hoped for? We could not BE prouder.