By Barry L. Paschal
One of her charity’s workers laughed heartily when I said his boss could talk the ears off a mule.
But Pat Bourke has a lot to talk about.
The founder of Julie’s House and its primary funding mechanism, the Making Ends Meet Bargain Center, Bourke is a petite whirlwind of information as she talks about her mission.
I was chatting with her because Julie’s House now is one of the beneficiaries of Hope Soap, the toiletry collection drive that gathers items (typically) from travelers who bring back the free stuff from hotel rooms. The News-Times office is a drop-off site, and when there’s enough collected, I’ll take it to one of the local agencies for distribution to those in need.
Julie’s House is one of those agencies. It provides a place to stay for a dozen women and children, usually those who have either been victims of domestic violence or who otherwise find themselves on the verge of homelessness.
Bourke founded Julie’s House a little more than four years ago after retiring from the Georgia Department of Labor, where she learned plenty about bureaucratic roadblocks. She also learned a lot about how much unmet need there is in the community for women and children on the margins.
Since then, she’s poured heart and soul, and money, into providing the home where the women and kids have a roof over their heads, life-skills training and other support services.
But just as working in a government bureaucracy taught her about the labyrinth that awaits anyone legitimately seeking assistance (fraudsters seem to glide right through), the experience of running a shelter also has taught Bourke that no matter how much is done, more is needed.
More than once, in fact, she and her helpers quoted from Jesus’ Parable of the Talants, which boiled down means the reward for hard work is more work.
While the agency receives occasional grants and assistance from kind individuals, the thrift store is a steady source of income. Bourke proudly gives a tour.
Making Ends Meet started with just 900 square feet in La Petite Plaza, a little strip in Martinez. It now has grown to the other side of the lot in a parallel building, filling a 6,000-square-foot thrift store with all manner of items.
The sale of those items helps fund Julie’s House, helping keep at-risk women and children off the street.
Want to help?
• Donate items or shop at Making Ends Meet. They’re open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
• Donate money to Making Ends Meet at the store, or at P.O. Box 204235, Martinez, Ga., 30907. You also can find them at www.julies-house.org.
• Volunteer. Many hands make light work.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, and that’s why Pat Bourke has so much to talk about.
God bless her and her mission.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at http://www.twitter.com/barrypaschal.)