Margaret Flowers has been on a mission since she was a teenager.
By the time she was 16, she boldly entered drug houses in Washington, D.C., to rescue her older brother and drag him home.
“I’ve been in some dangerous situations, and God has spared me,” Flowers said.
The 54-year-old Kathleen woman believes God protected her so she could do his work at this point in her life.
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For the past 10 to 15 years, the mother of three has had a heart to help inmates and others who have nowhere to turn.
Now that her children are grown, she has founded Genesis Joy House Homeless Shelter Inc., a nonprofit ministry offering refuge to women and their children.
“God had been after me to do it for a while, but in January 2011, I just decided to go ahead with it,” Flowers said.
She had always participated in church outreach ministries and began attending the Georgia Department of Corrections Re-entry Coalition meetings this year.
Flowers met Rosalyn Davis, the statewide manager of Day Reporting Centers where offenders go through intensive drug rehabilitation.
“I really admire her,” said Davis, who agreed to serve on Flowers’ board of directors for Genesis. “Just from going to that first interest meeting, I knew I wanted to be part of her cause. I know that’s her passion from working with her.”
After Flowers’ husband transferred from California to Robins Air Force Base in 1996, she could do little to keep her brother’s life from devolving into continual brushes with the law and repeated trips to prison.
“He’s a good-hearted guy who knows the Lord, but when he gets out, there’s no one to hold him accountable,” Flowers said. “The system is just broken, and I’m just wanting to repair a piece in central Georgia.”
She’s hoping to provide that accountability for female inmates and other women needing to get off the streets.
In June, Flowers began working with the Celebrate Recovery program at Pulaski State Prison.
Twice a month she visits behind bars with women struggling with hurts, habits and hang-ups.
“A lot of women feel guilty, and it introduces them to Christ and lets them know he forgives them for their sin,” Flowers said.
Through working at the prison, Flowers hopes to identify potential residents for future housing.
Over the past year, Flowers and her board of directors have recruited volunteers. She has solicited business owners who would be willing to give jobs to women needing a second chance.
Two houses in east Macon have been offered to the group, but they both need substantial repairs.
“I don’t want to make a commitment until I get some volunteers (to work on the houses),” she said. “I don’t want to pay property taxes on something I can’t use.”
The ministry hopes to secure grant funding to help with expenses. In the meantime, Flowers is trying to identify contractors and builders who would be willing to make in-kind, tax-deductible donations of materials and labor to make the houses inhabitable.
Through the website www.genesisjoyhouse.org, she already has been referring homeless women to other services available in the community.
She’s focusing her efforts on Macon, where the need is greatest, she said.
Flowers also is helping with public relations for the Depaul USA’s Daybreak homeless center that is expected to open next summer on Walnut Street in Macon. It will offer daytime services and guidance for the homeless.
She does all this while holding down a job in human resources at Hawkinsville’s Source Care Management that helps elderly people stay in their homes.
“It’s hard work, but my life is so peaceful now because I’m doing what God put me on this Earth for,” Flowers said. “We want the ladies to connect with Christ and become productive members of society and stay out of prison.”
Anyone interested in helping restore the houses or helping with the project can e-mail email@example.com or call Flowers at (478) 918-7606.
If you know of a person going above and beyond to help the community -- someone whose work might otherwise go unrecognized -- please let us know. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.