The Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter received its first guests on Friday, February 2, 1996, the night of the year’s first ice storm. Housed in a temporary location on Church Street (across from the back of the new Bartow County Courthouse), the shelter had only 12 beds, including a very cramped family room. The quarters may have been cramped, but the twelve persons who filled it the first weekend were grateful for refuge from the storm. Bartow County Commissioner, Clarence Brown, allowed the shelter use of this county owned building rent-free while the Board of Directors searched for a permanent location.
Upon establishment, the shelter accepted men, women, and families, but was only open from 5 pm until 7 am. The shelter was staffed entirely with volunteers who came at either 5 pm when the shelter opened to check in guests and serve dinner or at 9 pm to spend the night.
In September 1996, the Board of Directors secured a new location at 110 Porter Street, which needed a number of renovations before it could house the shelter. The chief attractions of this building were that it could be remodeled to provide more beds (15) and was located on a triple lot. The Board hoped that one day funding would be available to add or expand the building, increasing the capacity and mission.
In fall of 2000, representatives from a private foundation approached the Board of Directors with a proposal. If Good Neighbor agreed to become a 24-hour facility, the foundation would build a new facility on the Porter Street property to relieve crowding and provide adequate meeting, storage, office space and parking. The Board of Directors agreed and an adjacent lot was purchased to provide adequate space for the facility and yard.
Construction began in the spring of 2001 and the new facility was completed that fall. The 4,600 square foot building was occupied in November, after which the old shelter was torn down to make room for parking. The facility has a 30-bed capacity with 2 dorms for men, 2 dorms for women, extended housing rooms, and a family room. The facility is open and staffed 24 hours a day.
Financial support has always come from the community as more people become aware of the shelter. In 1997, the Shelter was privileged to become a United Way agency and remains an integral part of United Way’s mission. Churches, individuals, and civic clubs and organizations that want to have an impact on homelessness provide financial support. Private foundation and government grants are also a part of the shelter’s budget.
In 2006, the shelter launched a website to promote awareness in the community. In 2007, the website was enabled to take online donations which has improved our fundraising efforts.
The shelter has raised significant portions of its budget through various development efforts. Events such as Our Hearts, Their Harbor (a dinner/auction), an annual 5K "Run for the Shelter," and concert events with the Etowah Jazz Society and the Big Chicken Barbershop Chorus also increase the organization’s annual revenues.
110 Porter Street
Cartersville, GA 30120
Cartersville, Georgia 30120