Rainbow House back in business

By Ed Brock

Sarah Morgan is glad to be back on the job she's held at the Rainbow House children's shelter since it opened 16 years ago.

Three months ago a fire closed the shelter, but on Tuesday it reopened and child development worker Morgan was happy.

"I missed it. I love what I do. I get up at 5 in the morning to put my work clothes on," Morgan said.

Like many other shelter employees, Morgan filled the months helping to collect the donations from the community that helped to rebuild the Rainbow House, a place that provides temporary housing for children who have been separated from their families for legal reasons. And those donations have poured in from individuals, organizations, cities and churches.

"Our faith community has really rallied," said Rainbow House Director Phil Kouns.

The First Christian Church of Jonesboro, McDonough Christian Church and the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro are among the major contributors from that community, Kouns said. Other contributors included A Friend's House children's shelter in Henry County that held a bake sale to benefit Rainbow House and the city of Riverdale that collected donations from residents.

On Nov. 4 a fire destroyed a storage shed that was attached to the shelter and caused serious smoke and water damage within. Everything had to be replaced.

"There's not a thing in here that's not new," Kouns said.

Also, the shelter stopped receiving per diem reimbursements from the state's Department of Human Resources since no children were staying at the shelter.

"For us that's been a little over $100,000 in lost revenue," Kouns said.

But if there is a silver lining to the fire it's that the newly reopened shelter is improved in some ways, especially its appearance. The shelter's insurance company hired artist Melaney Bracken of Melaney's Murals, Inc., in Acworth to decorate the walls of the shelter's common room and sleeping quarters.

In the common room she painted a Laundromat scene near the door leading to the shelter's laundry room and made the outside wall of the kitchen into the "Rainbow House Caf?."

"It gives it a fun feel," Kouns said. "I mean, kids live here."

In the young girl's bedrooms she painted a garden surrounded by a white picket fence, and the young boy's room is painted to look like a log cabin. On the wall at the entrance to the teen-agers' room she painted a pastoral scene.

"They were fun to do and that was a very special place," Bracken said. "I wanted to do something fun for the kids."

The general public will be invited to see the restored shelter this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. during a grand opening. Call (770) 478-6905 for information and directions.