All Saints' Episcopal Church initiated a night shelter program in winter 1980-81 to provide safety and minimum amenities for people living on the street during the winter months.
Space on the third floor of the church parish house was adapted to permit 50 guests floor space for sleeping and a room equipped with tables and chairs for eating, game playing, and TV watching. Each guest was provided minimum food when they left the facilities in the morning.
When the property at the corner of Ponce de Leon and Spring Street was purchased by All Saints', it was adapted for the night shelter program. The new facility provided cots for sleeping, showers, laundry service, a dinner meal, and fruit or other food when the guests left in the morning. The program operated from the beginning of November to the end of March.
The Rise and Shine Program was initiated in March 1989 when the night shelter closed for the season. Five mornings a week Rise and Shine opened from 6:00 to 8:30 a.m. to permit homeless people to obtain a breakfast, have access to bath facilities, newspapers, and telephones. They also received counseling by staff when needed.
Through the night shelter and Rise and Shine programs, many volunteers have had the opportunity to get to know many of the guests and they became friends. As they came to know these men more intimately, the volunteers began to question the validity of a program that was permitting individuals suffering from addiction to continue their destructive lifestyle. Though the shelter was supposedly "drug and alcohol free", it was known that many of the guests were trapped in addiction.
During the summer of 1990, Covenant Community was established as a five-month experiment. The night shelter was rearranged to accommodate up to twenty men who indicated they sought freedom from their addiction and a life stabilization program. The summer program provided the volunteers, staff, and participants great joy, but also much heartache. However, at the end of the summer, volunteers who had been actively involved were convinced that the program was both valid and needed. Accordingly, it was agreed that the night shelter program would be replaced by the year round Covenant Community program.
Fall 1990 was spent by the volunteers and staff in fine tuning the new program, and the first participants were recruited. In January 1993, the therapeutic community concept was adopted. The residents are able to fully participate and have a say in the management and upkeep of Covenant Community. A celebration is held approximately twice a year to honor those participants who have been successful residents of the program for six months to a year.
In November, 1994, residents were moved to new quarters at 623 Spring Street. The construction of this facility was made possible by personal donations and grants, including those of All Saints' Episcopal Church, The Tull Charitable Foundation and, especially, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.
In 1997, Covenant Community opened the Sterne House, a twelve-bed transitional house available to those who have successfully completed the minimum six months program at Covenant Community.
In July of 1998, Covenant Community became licensed by the GA Department of Human Resources to provide a Residential Drug Treatment and Educational Treatment Program for 18 men. In, 2001, Covenant Community, Inc. received national accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Therapeutic Communities and Community Housing. A three-year accreditation was granted in May 2007. CCI was also accredited by the Georgia Association of Recovery Residences in August 2008.
It is recognized that much of the strength of Covenant Community comes from the mutual support developed among the men. The staff directs a concentrated program of group and individual counseling. Networks of volunteers share their skills in budgeting, money management, and tutoring. STAND, Inc, an area non-profit agency, assists our residents with eight weeks of an outpatient day program. The Georgia Department of Labor, Division of Rehabilitation Services, has a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor assigned to Covenant Community residents to provide vocational assistance.
Covenant Community, Inc. is a residential, life-stabilization program serving men addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, ages eighteen or older. Created in 1990, the program supports fourteen residents who have completed a short-term stay in a detoxification facility and have made a covenant with the Community to follow a strict therapeutic regimen for a minimum of six months. Covenant Community is based on the therapeutic community model. Personal responsibility and community accountability are the hallmarks of this model. After completing the Covenant Community program, residents may transition to the Martha Sterne House, a sober-living environment, that supports up to ten men maintaining their sobriety in a residential community.
Among the unique features of the residential, life stabilization program are a variety of therapeutic formats, including:
Random drug testing is an expectation of Community residents. In addition to their adherence to house rules and housekeeping responsibilities, residents also are required to attend four AA or NA meetings weekly. Residents are expected to participate in all therapeutic groups offered Sunday –Thursday evenings and on Friday afternoon, as well as attend individual counseling sessions weekly.
Approximately twice a year, an emotional, yet festive ceremony "Celebration of Memories and Hopes,” honors those who have completed the program.
Members of the Community and volunteers share meals, recreational events, retreats, and community outreach projects. Residents have joined the parish of All Saints’ Church in building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
The residents of the Community take part in a weekly Insight Night which introduces them to persons from all segments of the Atlanta community. The purpose of Insight Night is to reintegrate Community residents into the broader society of Atlantans at work, at play, in the political realm, and in the arts. Insights have included leaders from the Pro-life and Pro-choice groups, Gays and Lesbians of All Saints (GALAS), a psychologist discussing men, women, and violence, a seminar on repairing bad credit, a probation officer and a Fulton County judge.
Covenant Community, inc. is licensed by the State of Georgia as an intensive residential drug education and treatment program and is accredited by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities in Therapeutic Communities. Our transitional program located at the Martha Sterna House is accredited by CARF in Community Housing. Covenant Community, Inc. is supported by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Georgia Department of Labor/ Division of Rehabilitation Services, United Way, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, private foundations, and individual donations.