FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Amy Weaver, a 41-year-old single mother of three teenage children, moved to Forsyth County from Kansas City, Mo., last November, hoping to start fresh after accepting a new position in Atlanta as a human resources manager. While parenting her own children, she was also responsible for taking care of her friend’s three teenage daughters for two years leading up to the move. Arriving with the intent to rent before securing a permanent home, complications arose once she made the transition. In February, she lost her job.
“I moved in an effort to keep my children and myself safe from an abusive ex-husband,” Weaver said. “Shortly after moving, I went to a salon for waxing and the next day noticed an infection on both of my legs. Right after Christmas, I ended up in the hospital for eight days. I missed nearly a month of work from being ill. I was in borderline liver failure. I was fired for attendance; I was still in my 90-day probation period.”
Weaver was unsure of how she would feed six children and pay rent after moving halfway across the country away from family. Even with a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on human resources, she still struggled to find work. She quickly applied for food stamps and took a temporary delivery job paying little more than minimum wage while searching for another human resources position. As time went by, she struggled to find a way to make ends meet. With the food stamp application taking months to process, she searched online for dependable food pantries in Cumming. It was then when she found The Place of Forsyth County off of Antioch Road.
“Children are expensive, food stamps are great, but they take a long time to get and don’t cover basic necessities like toilet paper, shampoo, laundry soap…” said Weaver. “I showed up, told them [The Place of Forsyth County] my situation, filled out a couple of forms, provided proof of residency, and they sent me home with food. I think The Place is an amazing organization focused on helping those in need without judgement or the process of humiliation used by the state institutions that grant food stamps.”
Originally founded in 1975 by four Dominican nuns, The Place of Forsyth County provides residents with clothing, food, financial assistance and child tutoring services. Since August 2015, The Place has maintained a workforce development initiative to help unemployed and underemployed members of the community secure job opportunities. Just this year, over 1,800 households have used their food pantry and over 300 have received financial assistance. When President and CEO Joni Smith heard Weaver’s story, she informed her of the many services extending past their food pantry.
“We first heard of Amy’s situation when she reached out to our office for assistance… Here was a single mother, trying to work, but because of an unexpected emergency the rug was being pulled out from under her. We were confident that with the right assistance and encouragement, she would be back on track,” Smith said. “As part of our service model we try to ensure that all food pantry customers learn about the other services we provide, and we try to ensure that everyone who comes to The Place for financial assistance knows about our market pantry.”
Throughout the pending food stamp application, The Place provided Weaver and her children with bread, dairy products, fresh produce, meat and canned goods, but the nonprofit did not stop there. After Weaver exhausted her savings funds, The Place not only paid the additional $700 needed for rent, but they also assisted in securing her with a new human resources position that allowed her to land back on her feet professionally and financially.
In June, she started her current position as a human resources manager. Last month, her friend’s daughters were able to return back home to Kansas City. Weaver has nothing but gratitude for the assistance she received and urges anyone experiencing a similar situation to avoid giving up. Steady income came in time to purchase new school supplies for her teenagers and she is a few payments away from financial stability.
“Our new tag line is, ‘Where every person, dollar, and hour has a purpose.’ We want everyone who comes through our doors to know that no matter their current situation, they matter, they are important, they have a purpose,” Smith said. “With the generosity of our community, we are able to help our clients in their times of crisis, mitigate the effects of instability, and prevent a catastrophe from transpiring.”