Credit: Grant Blankenship/GPB
Macon's Daybreak Center celebrates a decade of serving the homeless and looks forward to new work
LISTEN: Over the past decade, the Daybreak Center has provided a place for the unhoused in Macon to do simple things: laundry, bathe, access medical care or even just receive mail. GPB's Grant Blankenship reports on the milestone and the center's next steps.
Macon’s Daybreak Day Resource Center celebrated its 10 anniversary Tuesday while also looking forward to an expansion of its mission in the coming year.
Over the past decade, the Daybreak Center has provided a place for the unhoused in Macon to do simple things: laundry, bathe, access medical care or even just receive mail. Supporters decided the milestone was worth a party to mark the center’s 10 years of service to the community.
As people mingled at the celebration, Daybreak regular Randy Bedingfield said his contribution was the music he was playing at a piano in the corner of the center’s common room. Bedingfield said he was thankful he first found the center after his parents died.
"It hit during a particularly difficult time for me,” he said.
A smattering of other regulars congregated in the pavilion behind the building.
“They're very benevolent,” said one woman, who asked her name not be used, of Daybreak staff. “You figure out how to stay clean one way or another. But it's a good thing they're out here for everybody.”
The reception was also an opportunity to remind the community Daybreak is moving beyond being a safe space during the day.
“People think that getting people off the streets is the hardest thing,” said Sister Theresa Sullivan, who leads Daybreak. But she said there’s something even harder.
“Keeping them off the streets and getting them settled.”
That’s what’s known as supportive housing and it’s why the Macon Housing Authority and Daybreak’s parent organization, the Catholic charity DePaul USA, are collaborating to build apartments next door to the center.
“Sixteen [units] of it will be for people that we still haven't gotten off the streets: chronically homeless,” Sullivan said.
The balance of 82 units total will go for what partners describe as affordable rents, likely about $600 a month. Downtown Macon rents often top $1,500 a month today.
Sullivan said expanding supportive and affordable housing will be the next step for the Daybreak center, even in other parts of the city. She said the center already supports about a dozen residents in homes in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood.
The apartments are expected to be finished by December 2023.
“So that's going to be my Christmas present next year,” Sullivan said.