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From Hardship to Home: The inspiring story of Alabama’s ‘Grace House’

Photo courtesy of Grace House Ministries
Photo courtesy of Grace House Ministries

BIRMINGHAM,Ala.– For many young women childhood is a happy time, but for some it is filled with worry and fear. Grace House Ministries, located just outside of Birmingham in the small city of Fairfield, helps young girls in Alabama find happiness and hope again.

Grace House Ministries is a non-profit Christian organization that provides a home for girls who come from crisis backgrounds.

In 2014 there were 4,985 children in Alabama’s foster care system, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources’ annual report. Last year forty-seven of those children found a home, thanks to Grace House Ministries.

Lois Coleman founded the organization in 1992. At that time, Coleman, now known as ‘Mama Lois,’ lived in the first Grace House with four girls.

“She wanted to have a home for girls and people believed in her, and believed in what she was doing, and so she and a group of supporters got together and raised the money to renovate the first house,” said Valier Gerber, development and communications director for Grace House.

Over 20 years later, Grace House has grown to serve around 50 girls a year. Their facility spans four houses holding 30 girls at a time. The girls that come to Grace House range from the ages of 6 to 21 and have been abused or neglected, often by those who are supposed to care for them.

“When girls come to Grace House, typically they are two or three grades behind, academically, they lack social skills, no confidence, but there’s always a little glimmer of hope in their eyes.” said Pamela Phipps, the organization’s executive director.

Grace House is set up in a way that gives the girls a safe and comfortable home life. The organization provides them with all the resources they need to get them on the right track. The girls are given an education; a tutor if they are lacking in their studies, and taught how to cook, among other skills that will benefit them when they are one day on their own. They also participate in Bible studies, scripture memorization, and other steps toward spiritual growth.

Phipps says when a girl comes to Grace House she is first introduced to her house parents, and then shown her new room. The house parents are a husband and wife team; allowing the girls to live in a family oriented environment. They are there for the girls 24 hours a day five days a week. One out of the four weekends in a month, the house parents leave to go home allowing them time to rest. At that time, the weekend staff member comes in, a woman who often fills the role of something like an aunt or sister to the girls.

Phipps says the girls’ initial fear of not knowing what to expect is gone when they see how those at Grace House love and are here for them.

“We don’t just provide food and shelter,” Phipps said, “but clothing and counseling, a home life environment, where the girls are free to talk to the parents or any of the staff members for that matter, about any problems or challenges that they may be having.”

To learn more about Grace House Ministries, or to make a tax-deductible donation visit their website.

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