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 ten-bed sober-living environment 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.
Important Dates in Our History
CCI began in 1990 as an outreach program of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in response to the cycle of addiction observed in homeless men who frequented the church’s night shelter.
In 1993, CCI became an independent, 501(c)3 non-profit organization clinically based on a 12-Step Therapeutic Community model.
In 1996, CCI fulfilled the requirements to become an active member of the Georgia Association of Recovery Residences.
In July of 1998, CCI received licensure from the Georgia Department of Human Resources to operate as a Residential Transitional Drug Abuse Treatment and Education Program.
In 1999, CCI opened the Martha Sterne Transitional Housing Program, a twelve-bed facility, which provides long-term support for clients who are not quite ready to make the leap to independent housing.
In 2001, CCI received National Accreditation from The Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). This rigorous process occurs every three years, ensuring that we are maintaining the highest quality of standards in this field.
In 2003, the Bush Administration singled-out CCI as a successful example of a faith-based community initiative.