That’s the mission of Paula Malone of Mercy’s Door Children’s homes in Dalton, Ga. The homes serve children who have been abused or neglected.
The organization has two homes for boys and one home for girls, providing a family setting for 6 to 8 children ages 6 to 18, Malone said.
“We are here to understand and heal the hurting of these children,” Malone said. “Our mission is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment for these children who are needing a place to live.”
Malone, who is from Cleveland, founded the charity with her husband in January 2006.
Since that time, more than 100 children have been served.
“The kids who come to us come from broken homes, which … in turn makes broken children. We want these kids to break this cycle so that it doesn’t repeat itself to their children,” Malone said.
The first step in this process, according to Malone, is telling children that God has a good plan for their lives and their future.
Many children have written to Mercy’s Door after they have left the homes to thank the organization for the support and encouragement they gave.
“There is nothing like knowing that you have helped a child be the first one in his family to graduate from high school, let alone go onto college,” Malone said.
Breaking the cycle continues through character studies in the homes, and encouragement in education through providing tutoring services to the children.
“A lot of the kids who come to us are one to two years behind in their education, due to school transfers or home transfers,” Malone said.
She said the organization has seen the hurt of many children healed through the homes.
Many stay at one of the homes for a short time while more permanent arrangements are made. Mercy’s Door works with the Department of Family and Children Services and receives some state funding. However, it is not enough to cover operational costs.
“We have about a $68,000 deficit every year that we have to raise funds for,” Malone said.
On Sept. 29, River Worship Center is hosting a fashion show at Lee University’s Dixon Center at 11 a.m. to benefit Mercy’s Door.
The organization is a proponent of adoption over the foster care system, and has helped 11 percent of the children they serve find adoptive homes. Malone has adopted two children of these children. Another 58 percent have been able to be reunited with their families. Malone said the nonprofit works with the parents, while their child is in Mercy’s care. Sometimes a child resides in one of the homes until they turn 18.
Malone’s heart for these children was born out of her own circumstances. Her mother was murdered when she was just 7 years old. Malone refers to her life after that as like “a Cinderella story.”
She said her stepmother hated her because she reminded the woman of her (Malone’s) mother.
“Over 1 million children in our nation every year are affected by child abuse and neglect,” Malone said. “That breaks my heart … we can’t throw these kids away because it affects us all.”
Also during the meeting, Rotarians were given an update from Jonathan Cantrell about his visit with People for Care and Learning to Cambodia.
“They rolled out the red carpet (in Phnom Penh),” Cantrell said. “I was totally blown away.”
Cantrell said the group visited the Build a City project and orphanages that the organization has in Andong.
Fred Garmon of People for Care and Learning said he appreciated Cantrell and his wife going on the trip.