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Class helps design charity shelter for area homeless
Students assist Open Hearts with an upcoming project
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A shelter planned to assist Bulloch County’s homeless is one step closer to construction.
    Open Hearts Community Mission, a faith-based nonprofit organization, inched nearer to its goal this week, when a group of Georgia Southern University students unveiled interior and exterior design plans for a more-than 4,000-square-foot facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
    On Monday, nearly a dozen students in Chris Johnson’s senior-level interior design class presented final design ideas to Open Hearts Director Delia Mobley as part of a semester-long project to assist the charity.
    Students presented final drafts of their plans through PowerPoint presentations while Mobley took notes.
    “One of the things that we have been trying to do is find volunteers that would offer their time in helping us design and construct the building. The effort that this class put forth was free of charge, and it is was very special,” Mobley said. “I love all of the designs. I am very impressed. I am impressed with the passion students had for this project. They have put in a lot of time and effort.”
    Mobley said final design plans for the shelter will likely include a combination of ideas presented Monday.
    Designs varied only slightly in theme, layout and more minor details. Students met with Mobley several times throughout the semester for feedback and to gain an idea about where mission staff would like to take the project.
    Every design featured men’s and women’s wings (20 beds for each side), a dining area, family rooms, offices, multipurpose rooms for activities and classes, and an apartment for staff. Plans took into account privacy and comfort for guests as well as security and building and operating costs for Open Hearts.
    “The students were able to learn a lot about this type of facility and commercial design in general. It was a learning experience for all of us,” Johnson said. “The students really got into the project; the humanitarian aspect of it appealed to many of them.”
    Open Hearts Community Mission purchased property on which to construct the shelter in February. The group hopes to clear land and begin work on the building within two or three months, Mobley said.
    “The facility will serve the area’s homeless. We will help them get back onto their feet through job-skill classes and training,” she said. “We also want to provide GED classes.”
    Mobley said she is hopeful that having a design plan in-place now will help secure additional donations as Open Hearts begins its next phase of fundraising.
    Open Hearts Community Mission works from donations by local churches and individuals and currently houses people at participating hotels. 
    Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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