Wingard Home aim is self-sufficiency
JACKSON — Helping the homeless and displaced escape the government welfare trap to find work, independence and financial stability in a Christian environment is the aim of the Wingard Home.
Wingard is a long-term transition facility with no set requirements for length of stay. Residents may remain until they are emotionally and financially stable and ready for independent living as long as they follow the rules.
Charlotte and Roy Wingard overcame poverty and homelessness themselves more than two decades ago and have been in ministry ever since. They believe in “lending a hand up rather than a handout.”
“After they helped me, I met my husband and we had a daughter who’s now five and named after Mrs. Charlotte,” said Lindsey Mike of Jackson. “She’s basically her grandmother.”
She been working at A1 Appliances in Pearl for the last seven years.
“We were able to save money over time and got our own vehicle and house. I couldn’t have done any of this without them,” Mike said.
Wingard offers residents alternatives to gang life and the drug culture and provides options to dependence on food stamps and government bail-out programs.
The Wingards were homeless themselves in Atlanta in the late 1980s and now they are helping others in need of a roof over their head.
Mike said she is grateful beyond words to the Wingards for their help. She entered Wingard in 2013 with nothing but the clothes on her back right out of prison.
Mike said she knows God was walking with her and she is forever grateful to the Wingards for their help and loves them like family.
The Wingards met when they were homeless in Atlanta in 1988 and they both joined the Signs and Wonders Ministry in Lawrenceville, Ga., in 1989.
The ministry helped them get back into the workforce and most importantly helped them learn to budget. They brought that ministry to Jackson in 1990.
The Wingards have a large family of nine children, 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Charlotte Wingard said a lot of homelessness is caused by people spending money they don’t really have, and when financial trouble happens, everything goes downhill from there.
“Signs and Wonders was a very clean, sober environment with no drugs or alcohol, with church every Sunday,” she said. “We were encouraged to work, get an education, and get closer to the Lord.”
They moved to their current location, 1279 Northwest Street behind Baptist hospital, in 1996.
They can take up to 60 people and the home serves as a place for the struggling to get their bearings, find a job, and get their own home. They serve about 250 individuals a year.
Residents get a bed, clean bathrooms and showers, computers and internet to find jobs online, and three meals a day.
Wingard said all they ask is for people there to keep clean, stay sober from alcohol or drugs, and go to church on Sunday.
And some residents walk the two miles to The First Presbyterian Church on State Street where they are welcomed. “We are glad to have the Wingard residents worship with us,” said an usher who signed a church bulletin not long ago for a resident as proof of attendance to take back. “Their stories of recovery we hear in the often brief interactions we have as they transition are evidence of the Lord’s work in their lives.”
The best part of the ministry is helping people get back out in life, Wingard said. They love teaching people how to feed themselves, support themselves, and use the talents God gave them to make a living and give back in the community.
“That’s what life is all about, and that’s our ministry,” she said.
Roy Wingard said every day is a new experience with helping people, and being able to help those who are struggling has made an incredible impact on his life since he’s been through homelessness himself.
It’s all about getting people reconnected with the world and their families, he said.
“Being able to live my life as a Christian daily and giving back to the community is my favorite part of this,” he said. “You meet different people every day and being able to help those in need is wonderful.”
Their website explains the application process.
“We welcome you to our home!” These are the first words our guests at Wingard hear as they enter the front door. ”
The Wingards rely solely on contributions. The residents are not charged.
For more information or to donate, visit the wingardhome.org.