MOULTRIE — A Moultrie church that opened its doors when temperatures recently dropped into the teens is looking to make a shelter a permanent fixture.

If Greater Newton Grove Baptist Church’s plan is successful, it would be the only walk-in shelter operating in the county.

Currently Serenity House shelters victims of domestic abuse and Cross Road Mission operates a shelter that is open to those who meet entrance requirements and are approved by its board.

During recent frigid weather, Greater Newton Grove operated a shelter for several nights that had as many as five people seeking refuge from the cold, the Rev. Cornelius Ponder said.

The church is looking to line up support to make a permanent shelter a reality. Plans are to turn the church’s youth ministry building into a shelter with separate rooms for men and women, and an area for chaperones.

“We’ve talked with different agencies and organizations trying to get some community support,” Ponder said. “We’re looking at turning it from a temporary shelter to a permanent shelter, with a food bank.”

The church occasionally provides boxes of food to the needy, but Ponder said he would like to hand out food each Monday, Wednesday and Friday through a food bank.

The church also could offer a place for those who are without a permanent residence to clean up, shower and shave, and also put them on the path toward getting a General Educational Development certificate, job or driver’s license, Ponder said.

“This time when we set it up, it’s not just a place for them to stay,” he said. “It’s a rehabilitation process. Right now I’ve sent out a proposal to local business people and churches, sororities and fraternities. We’re waiting for a response.”

Ponder said he does not know how much the renovations of the youth ministry building and parking area would be. With community labor from skilled builders it could be relatively modest to make the needed changes.

If response is good, Ponder said, the church plans to renovate the buildings in March and be ready to open by the end of that month. The planned capacity for the shelter is 10 to 15.

As a result of having the shelter open earlier in the year the church has a glut of perhaps as many as 100 blankets that were donated, most still in the original plastic wrapping, so the church is offering to give any excess to the needy.

“If there’s any elderly (people), if they give us a call we’ll get a blanket to them,” Ponder said.

To request a blanket or donate to the shelter project, call (229) 668-0284, or write to the church at 722 Second Ave. N.W., Moultrie GA 31768.

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