Blue Ridge, Ga. – The North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN) is not often highlighted among the nonprofit charities in our community. With the sensitive nature of the services they provide, it is a fine line that the charity must walk in order to financially continue operations and still protect the anonymity of the victims who seek their help.
Started in 1986, the NGMCN is entering its 33 year of service.
“There are a lot of non profit organizations in our community providing care and support to residents of Fannin County,” NGMCN Board Member Steven Miracle said explaining where the charity’s services fall, “Our mission is to provide safety and support to survivors and their children of sexual abuse and domestic violence.”
Miracle went on to explain that there are four major areas in which the organization focuses:
- Sexual Assault. Through NGMCN victims of sexual assault are provided counseling and support services to help navigate them through a very difficult time.
- Domestic Violence. While NGMCN offers the counseling and services to victims of domestic violence as it does to victims of sexual assault, it also offers shelter to house these victims and their children.
- Legal Advocacy. NGMCN has a trained staff that will help victims navigate the sometimes daunting legal system.
- Education Awareness. NGMCN helps to spread the word of domestic and sexual violence through community outreach. This includes working hand in hand with law enforcement, hospitals, and different organizations that provide services to these victims.
In 2018, NGMCN housed 129 residents at their shelter. This accounted for 3,173 bed/nights (a measure of occupancy for one person assigned to one bed for one night). Residents of the shelter were also provided with well over 10,000 units of service.
“That’s actually sitting across from a survivor and their children within the shelter to be able to make phone calls, to be able to help them with any type of individual support,” NGMCN Executive Director Julie Welch explained the term “units of service”.
Outreach clients or those who did not require a shelter stay for last year totaled 158 clients and 8,700 units of service.
So far in 2019 the charity has already provided 380 bed/nights, 87 hotline calls, and 600 units of service.
Once a victim has stayed at the NGMCN shelter, the services continue even after that person has checked out. The charity works with community services in the area that the victim chooses to move to and helps provide a network of resources.
Welch said of this work, “That way we can provide a net of services so they don’t fall through the cracks.”
Over $60,000 were provided to those who reached out to NGMCN in 2018. This financial assistance is used when a client leaving a threatening situation has no source of income initially or is needed as short-term emergency funds.
“The fact that we are part of the budget is very much appreciated,” Miracle spoke to the Fannin County Board of Commissioners about the role the county plays, “and the support that you provide in helping us provide services to survivors and victims of our community is very, very much appreciated.”
Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson shared his thoughts, “I admire what you do because quite simply, every situation you deal with is not a good situation, and you continually do it and your passion about what you do and everything that your organization does do, no one knows. I admire people who work behind the scenes. They do the things that they do. They don’t do it for any glamour or glory, they do it just for the reason you all do it because that’s what you feel like you should do.”
Welch acknowledged that it takes many volunteers, staff, and the community as a whole to provide these services: “It’s not just us. There’s a whole host of other people. It’s a team and working with law enforcement, the judicial system, hospitals…it’s completely a team and community effort.”
“I know some people that you literally saved their lives,” Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton thanked Miracle and Welch for the work they do. “Getting them out of situations that are horrendous. I’m not sure how many people in the county are aware of what a great thing you do. You do such a great thing for the community.”
There are currently 49 clients in their legal advocacy program and NGMCN is housing 14 people in their 12 bed shelter.
“Often times we will have moms that come in that will have small children,” Welch explained the high occupancy.
NGMCN serves both men and women who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. They hope by promoting education and awareness in these areas that eventually the cycle of abuse will come to an end.
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By Jeff Jones
Most thinking Georgians will no doubt agree that only illegal aliens require classification as “deferred action on deportation” or who may be under deportation orders from the federal government.
Most Georgians will be surprised to learn that Georgia’s Department of Drivers Services (DDS), the agency responsible for our driving and ID credentials, has issued, renewed or replaced more than 50,000 driver’s licenses and/or official state ID Cards to illegal aliens. These illegal aliens have either “deferred action on deportation” proceedings or are already under federal deportation orders. And that issuance of these official state documents is perfectly legal under current federal and state law.
Surprisingly, the 2005 federal REAL ID Act, passed after the horror of 9/11 says that states can optionally issue drivers licenses to illegals with “deferred action on deportation” and that the feds will allow this ID to be used to board airliners. The law says that “deferred action” is “evidence of lawful status” for federal acceptance of driver’s licenses as an official ID. The REAL ID Act guidelines from the feds are merely minimum requirements and standards for federal recognition – not legal requirements.
Georgia state law currently also allows “deferred action” illegals to get an official Georgia driver’s license and ID card. Surprisingly, but factually, Georgia has more illegals than Arizona.
In 2012 the Associated Press ran a news article headlined “Some illegal immigrants can get Georgia drivers licenses” explaining Georgia’s California-like situation. But, if you call your local DDS office, you will be told in – no uncertain terms – that “Georgia does not issue drivers licenses or ID Cards to illegal or undocumented immigrants.” Confusing, isn’t it? Many Georgia legislators think DDS should try harder to explain this scenario and how it is that DDS is issuing driver’s licenses to illegals.
Again, federal law does not say we must issue drivers licenses and ID cards to deferred action illegals. Instead, each state has the right to decide to whom it issues drivers licenses or ID Cards. And, importantly, Georgia officials also have the right to decide on the physical appearance of these credentials.
This brings me to the fact that the drivers licenses and ID Cards Georgia’s DDS gives to illegal aliens with “deferred action on deportation” are exactly like the ones we issue to legal immigrants, student visa holders and guest workers such as Mercedes Benz and KIA executives here from Germany and Korea, all who entered the United States legally.
This policy can and must be changed.
Georgia has the choice to issue a driver’s license to those with deferred action that will still allow them to drive, but that does not fit the federal requirements to be used as “ID for federal purposes” – like boarding an airliner or entering a federal building. And we can – and I firmly believe we must – change the appearance of these credentials so that no one will mistake the holder for a legal immigrant or a legitimate guest worker here on a legal temporary visa.
Currently at least two states, California and Michigan, issue multiple tiers of drivers licenses. The lower tiers are not recognized as federally approved ID and cannot be used as such. But the bearer can still drive.
I would use Mexico as another example here but Mexico does not allow any illegal aliens to obtain any type of driver’s license.
Georgia already issues a distinctly different driver’s license to young Americans that is vertically oriented and clearly marked “under 21.”
Realizing the United States is not going to be as strict as Mexico, Georgia should issue a vertically oriented ID, like we do for young drivers, to illegals with “deferred action on deportation” or who have been ordered deported, despite that the feds say we are not required to do so.
My bill, HB 484, pending in the Georgia Gold Dome requires DDS to end its current practice and to replace the driving and ID credentials now issued to illegal aliens with a vertically oriented, brightly colored card. This new ID card is designed to make it unmistakably and visually clear that the bearer is not a legal immigrant and that the ID is not acceptable for federal ID purposes. It would look something like the mock up pictured here.
Georgians will also be surprised to learn that many state legislators are not well educated on this topic. Because I introduced this measure late in the 2017 session, it has not had a committee hearing and is in need of legislative co-sponsors. Readers who agree this idea adds some sanity to our driver’s license and ID Card integrity should ask their House member to sign on as co-sponsors and support my bill, HB 484. This is vitally important for the State of Georgia.
Jeff Jones (R) D167, is a second term Georgia State Representative. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 565-0177
The Union General Hospital held its Health Fair on Saturday morning, April 30th and offered several opportunities for anyone wishing to check up on their health.
They offered lab work, vision and hearing tests, ultra sound for your neck to check for blockages and much more. There was also a quick class on CPR. Union General Hospital is located in Blairsville, so be sure to check with them if you missed the health fair they can still help you with your health questions or visit them online Union General Hospital Website.