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Good News in Gainesville

Good News in Gainesville

Good News at Noon is a non-profit organization located on the corner of Dorsey Street and Pearl Nix Parkway in downtown Gainesville. They aim to help and rehabilitate people who are facing homelessness and food insecurity in the area. Still, even many locals remain largely unaware of the number of people sleeping in shelters and tents in their own community.

people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity file into Good News At Noon's dining hall for a Christmas feast
Community members file into Good News At Noon’s dining hall for the first Christmas feast in their new building. Photo by Megan Nelson.

Good News at Noon has been serving the Gainesville community since 1987. Since that time the population has more than doubled, the same being true for the homeless population. Good News at Noon works alongside the Salvation Army, My Sisters Place, Family Promise and Gainesville Rescue Mission to serve the needs of the community. None of the homeless programs in Gainesville are provided directly by the government.

Each of the places providing shelter and food is religiously affiliated, but none require the people they provide for to be religious in any capacity. There are no secular lodgings in the immediate area for the homeless.

Despite the city’s prosperity, many factors contribute to a rising number of people living unhoused. In the last 10 years, the housing market in the United States has doubled in cost. Not to mention a local rise in property value, national inflation and the many impacts of COVID-19 on people’s financial and psychological well-being.

Hot food and shelter are only a small part of Good News at Noon’s mission, and because of that they consider themselves neither a homeless shelter nor a soup kitchen.

“We are a transformational program, which means we are able to help people change from the inside so that they don’t find themselves at this place in their lives again”. – Program Coordinator for Good News at Noon, Denise Johnson.

Good News at Noon recently built a brand-new facility, which they moved into the week of Christmas. Previously, the building was only large enough to shelter men. Now, the new facility has a women’s wing that will be able to house 17 women and a men’s wing that will house up to 36 men.

Denise Johnson said that the transition to sheltering both men and women has been a smooth one, due to the fact that they’ve already been serving the female side of that community in every other aspect.

Aside from shelter and food, Good News at Noon has a lot to offer its guests. They provide clothing, toiletries, canned food, bread, showers and ministry. They require residents to be pursuing work or working. They rely on donated items and donated time to serve an at-risk population within our community. Despite any challenges that may arise Johnson said, “We’re here to help those in need, that’s what we want Gainesville to know.”

Community members gather to enjoy a Christmas meal at Good News At Noon’s brand new facility. Photo by Megan Nelson.

Despite the number of beds available at Good News and the other shelters in the area, the volume of people displaced makes competition for those beds tight. Additionally, many of these people are struggling with mental health disabilities and are unable to regulate themselves enough to qualify for housing.

Each person experiencing homelessness has had a different path before ending up at Good News at Noon. “Many of them have lived several years, even as many as thirty or forty, living this lifestyle and we really hope to be able to help them see their life in a different light,” said Johnson.

One woman facing homelessness, who wished to remain anonymous, explained Good News at Noon had changed her life. She said that she’s been living in a tent and that it scares her to be so cold at night. Even in the face of her uncertain circumstance, her message was clear.

“Keep going. There is always someone who has it worse than you do.” – unidentified woman experiencing homelessness

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Megan Nelson, Staff Writer
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