Community organization Interfaith Outreach Home (IOH) is hosting a tennis tournament this month to raise money and spread the word about its programs.
The home, located in Doraville and founded in 1992, tries to help financially unstable families remain together and get back on their feet. The facility supplies affordable two-room apartments to families to create a stable home environment for children.
“I have been involved in a lot of outreach projects, but this is different,” said Dr. Kelly Spetalnik, a member of the program’s board. “It’s not just a Band-Aid fix…. It’s transforming people’s lives.”
Rather than simply providing a temporary solution to a housing problem, the program requires families to take part in money-saving habits and financial-wellness courses. The housing program incorporates safe and secure housing, with mandatory savings, accountability through being responsible for rent and personal foods, as well as support resources such as life skills counseling, case management and financial guidance.
After two years in the program, many families save $10,000 to $15,000 to create a stable future for themselves, Spetalnik said.
The fundraising tennis tournament is scheduled for Oct. 22 and will be held at the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center on Northside Drive. It starts at 6 p.m. Players pay an entry fee of $100 and compete in a round-robin event for prizes. The event includes food and drinks. All proceeds will go toward the Interfaith Outreach home. Last year, 30 players participated, but the home hopes to increase that number.
Several local churches, and civic organizations, including Brookhaven’s St. Martin’s in the Fields, the Dunwoody Woman’s Club and Our Lady of the Assumption support the program’s mission to keep family units intact and lead them on the path to financial stability.
Spetalnick, 57, former outreach chairman at St. Martin’s, became so enamored with the mission of the Interfaith Outreach Home that she left her role at the church to become a board member and a chair of development for the program. Now, as a tennis player herself, she is helping plan the tournament.
Spetalnik and others involved in the program follow the lives of its graduates. She said 90 percent of families are still together in sustainable housing after five years. “They have come to not thinking about tomorrow as the end of everything,” she said.
Diane Norris, 70, coordinates volunteer opportunities between Dunwoody Women’s Club and the interfaith program. Although the club is not formally involved in the tennis tournament this fall, the ladies volunteer their time to freshen up and prepare the apartments between residents, to set them up for success. For the last four years, this has been the club’s community improvement project.
“I do it for the kids, to see their excitement, and to do something good,” Norris said. “That family has someplace to live, and we are a part of that.”