Carl Sojourner is a man that loves to cook. His passion for southern classic cuisine was born in the Biloxi, Mississippi kitchen of his mother. He would sit and watch her prepare rich macaroni and cheese, yam soufflé, deliciously spicy Cajun rice and other comfort foods in her spotless kitchen. “I loved her food and realized that if anything ever happened to her, I would lose her food too,” says Carl. He knew then that he would have to learn to cook just like her so that he would never lose those wonderful memories. On Easter Sunday this year, he shared the food of his childhood with more than 200 guests at the MUST Ministries Elizabeth Inn emergency shelter in Marietta.
As a former guest of the Elizabeth Inn, Carl knows first-hand what it feels like to be homeless. A bad choice landed him in prison for a time, during which he lost his beloved mother. After his release, he found success as a cook in a restaurant in Roswell. Unfortunately, as the recent economy took its toll, he lost his job and eventually his apartment. Fortunately, Carl found MUST Ministries to give him the hope and support he needed to get back on his feet. “I enjoy the swinging door at MUST,” says Carl. “They give anyone a chance. As long as you put forth the effort, MUST will support you the whole way.”
A steady job has allowed him to move into the Transitional Housing program* and he is well on his way to having a kitchen of his own. He dreams of owning his own restaurant in the near future. He even has the name – Biloxi Street Café – where he will serve dishes inspired by his mother’s flair for flavor, along with his own special recipes.
MUST was there when Carl needed someplace to go. And for that he will be forever grateful. “Being involved in MUST is just being a part of what you believe,” attests Carl. “These are the walks and missions that Jesus Christ was called to do – so when you are called to serve in His name, how can you turn that down?”
*To find out more about the Elizabeth Inn emergency shelter, the Transitional Housing program and the other wonderful programs offered by MUST Ministries, visit www.MUSTMinistries.org, or call (770) 427-9862. Your time, talents or resources are always welcome.
You pass under the bridge and see the blanket balled up in the corner. A closer look and you realize that it is someone’s bed. Rain or shine, hot or cold, there are an estimated 500 people in Cobb County that are considered homeless and living on the street. With no place to go for a good meal or a hot shower, it soon becomes impossible to find work in this impossibly tight job market. Too many people in our country are now just one paycheck away from being homeless. The new face of homelessness in this troubled economy might be the family that used to live next door.
Just ask Stefon Brown, a former MUST Ministries supportive housing resident. “Before I came to MUST, I was homeless and living under a bridge,” says Brown. “I was not at all at peace with myself.” Fortunately, Brown was led to the Elizabeth Inn Emergency Shelter and found the rest he needed. The Elizabeth Inn provides a place of refuge for those who find themselves in a state of homelessness. It is a place to begin a journey to recovery. The shelter is open to men, women and children on a first-come basis.
“Those who stay in the shelter have two options: You can abide by the ‘house rules’ of drug and alcohol testing to stay for up to eight days; otherwise you can choose to participate in the Stepping Stones to Success program,” according to Rev. Bob Milburn, Director of the Elizabeth Inn Campus. The Stepping Stones track affords housing for up to six weeks, along with three meals a day and supportive services. Guests are required to pass all drug and alcohol testing, are expected to work, and children of guests must attend school.
Brown chose the second option and has never looked back. “God answered my prayers and He brought me to MUST. I found total peace,” he recalls. “I got my family back and my self-esteem.” Being at MUST meant that he would have a place to shower, be provided clean work attire for interviews and get job training and coaching to help him find steady work. The second step for him was Transitional Housing, designed to help successful clients in the Stepping Stones program bridge the gap to independent living in their own affordable housing. By providing encouragement and assistance, MUST helps those with a desire to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
“MUST has done so much for me,” says Brown. “I got a second chance at life. MUST is so God-sent. I love the ministry and I praise God for it.”
MUST is always looking for donations of time, talent and compassion. If you are inspired to help others like Stefon Brown get back on their feet, please contact MUST Ministries at (770)427-9862 or www.mustministries.org.