(QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Back in December, Queen City News and its parent company Nexstar, launched a campaign to feature remarkable women throughout our area this month. We asked you to tell us about the remarkable women in your life, and you answered!
Years ago, Dr. Sonja Chisolm said that God gave her a vision. That vision became Gracious Hands, a non-profit organization that serves homeless women with children in the Charlotte area.
Dr. Chisolm remembers what it was like being a 21-year-old single mother of three, living with family members, and not having a place of her own to call home.
Sacrifices had to be made, but she eventually found success working with the Independent Beverage Corporation in Charlotte. But she knew it wasn’t her true calling. She thought, if she won the lottery, she would love to open a shelter for those who are less fortunate. Winning the lottery never happened, but something else did. Dr. Chisolm recalls God saying to her, “When I gave you the vision, that was the lottery. Now I need for you to move.”
So she did. She went home and told her husband, and they got to work. Gracious Hands was born in 2012, and thanks to a generous donor, she purchased its first property in 2015. Within 30 days, the place was completely full. Demand was high, and with COVID, it got worse. She currently has a waitlist of 150+.
Dr. Chisolm says people ask what Gracious Hands can do for them. To this, she answers, “Nothing, because Gracious Hands is not a handout, it’s a hand up. It’s 95% of what you’re willing to do for yourself.”
Gracious Hands is a transitional housing program that’s more than just providing a temporary place to live with food to eat. It’s life coaching, weekly counseling, budget and finance training, credit repair, and a program to push them through the trauma they’ve endured.
Dana Reid is a friend of Sonja’s and nominated her for the Remarkable Women campaign. Dana met “Miss Sonja”, as she calls her, six years ago while volunteering. Dana was once homeless herself and wishes she would have had a program like Gracious Hands to help her during that time.
“The women come out much stronger, much better and wiser, knowing where they’re going, setting goals and reaching those goals,” Reid says.
To this day, Gracious Hands has helped over 300 women and successfully transitioned out over 75% of them.
Gracious Hands has two properties in Charlotte, and they’re currently adding on to one of them. If you’d like to donate, volunteer or sponsor a family, go to gracioushandshousing.org for more information.