With locations in Perry and Dawsonville, Abba House opens its doors to women and children in need.
Twenty-seven years ago Jim and Chris Sharp were living in Macon with four small children. He owned a high-end jewelry store; she was a dental hygienist. Both were volunteering with an organization helping pregnant teen-age girls.
"In those day it was almost a capital offense for a girl to get pregnant," Jim recalls. "Lots of families would disown them. Most had nowhere to turn."
So Jim and Chris began a lifetime commitment to offering women and girls somewhere to turn. They started by taking pregnant girls into their home. Over the next seven years they took in eight women.
Their efforts, driven by an abiding Christian faith, led them to Okeechobee, FL, where a men's rehabilitation center asked them to extend its healing ministry to women. In the middle of a recession, the Sharps moved to Florida to start the first Abba House.
"Within six months we had 20 women and children living with our family on the property," Jim says. "It was quite an adventure."
Years later, Jim and Chris moved their ministry to Cumming, GA, at the invitation of No Longer Bound, a 12-month residential program for men seeking also to provide women with safe options. Abba House now has two locations in Perry and Dawsonville serving about 40 women, and they are welcome to bring their young children, too, as they get help.
Abba House describes its mission as "Being Made Whole." That includes treatment for addictions and mental health problems and teaching job skills. In Perry, a thrift store and a catering service offers work experiences and job training.
"For a teen-age girl dropping out of high school at 15, her only job experience might have been selling drugs," says Jim. "Here, we teach them to work, supervise others, and take on responsibilities as we train them to be leaders."
Abba House is not only compassionate. It gets results.
"We did a study of all the people we had served in a two-year period, and not one had returned to jail. Not one had to returned to a psychiatric hospital. And more than 93 percent had no longer had an active addition."
Abba House receives community support from churches, civic clubs, Perry Hospital employees and private individuals. Learn more about Abba House.
About Circle & Shield
Cingo means to surround and secure — to protect. That's what we do. And we have a lot of respect for those who take it upon themselves to make protection a part of what they do, too. That's why we've launched Circle & Shield, our award to a member of the community who helps make the world a better place, a safer place.
Click here to nominate someone for Cingo's Circle & Shield. We'll do the rest.