The man had been out of prison for two weeks. “He didn't know how he could contact his family,” says Gaye Martel, a volunteer coordinator at Daybreak, a shelter and resource center for the homeless in Macon. “He didn’t know if his family even wanted him.”
One day, though, an older man showed up, and said, “Come on. Get your things and come get in the truck.”
“Our guy looks up and says, ‘Dad?’” recalls Martel. “I’ve never seen two men so full of emotion that they were determined not to show.”
Coordinating such reunions is part of the mission of Daybreak, which provides services such as showers and laundry; literacy and GED tutoring; medical treatment; job preparation; and access to phones and computers. “We wanted to offer as many comprehensive services as possible under one roof,” says Charles Levesque, president and executive director of Depaul USA, the organization that oversees Daybreak.
The booming initiative, based in a 6,000-square-foot former warehouse, is supported by 10 churches of various denominations and a new thrift store called Wear.
“It's thrift with a twist,” Levesque says. “You can get a designer shirt for $3 in a setting that’s more like a chic boutique than a typical thrift store, and it’s located in the heart of Macon because we're committed to revitalizing downtown.”
Daybreak, founded in 2012, has a full-time staff of eight and 650 volunteers, who last year served 1,400 different individuals. Among the achievements: 450 job seekers found assistance, 187 clients received medical treatment and 50 people secured housing.
“Daybreak creates a space where people can breathe and begin again, with dignity,” Martel says.