How one nonprofit agency has become ‘The Place’ for Forsyth County students and families in need

John Thompson
Photo/The Place Facebook page.

(Forsyth County, GA) The numbers may come as a surprise to many Forsyth County families. At the Forsyth County Board of Education meeting on August 16, Superintendent of Education Jeff Bearden said the school system helped more than 800 homeless students, and the poverty rate for students in Forsyth County is 15 percent. That translates to more than 7,500 students in need of financial assistance.

Thanks to the effort of four Dominican nuns back in 1975, Forsyth County’s economically disadvantaged families have a place to find the help they need at The Place.
Photo/The Place Facebook page.

Chief Executive Officer Cristy Ferencie said the nuns assisted families with food, shelter and financial need.

“Throughout our 40 years, we have been the catalyst for several agencies that had their beginnings as programs at The Place,” said Ferencie.

In 2021, Ferencie said The Place:

  • Served food to 4,749 households which includes 14,662 household members
  • Helped 270 job seekers find employment with salaries totaling almost $2.5 million
  • Provided rental assistance to 268 households
  • Provided utility assistance to 244 households
  • Provided homeless assistance (tents, sleeping bags, etc.) to 122 individuals
  • Provided holiday presents for over 2,000 children
  • Delivered groceries weekly to an average of 25 seniors

In 2015, The Place started a workforce assistance program to help the impoverished find jobs and help lift them up out of poverty.
Photo/The Place Facebook page.

The Place is mostly funded through sales in its thrift store and has an annual budget of $5-6 million.

In helping the county’s homeless students, Ferencie said many of the students are living on couches or in long-term hotels.

Despite being ranked as one of the most affluent counties in Georgia and the U.S., Ferencie said many people can’t afford to work and live in the area.

“Inflation and high rents make this unaffordable,” she said.

The Place also accepts car donations to help families get to work, and recently accepted a camper donation.

“We gave it to a family who had been sleeping in a tent,” Ferencie said. “The look on their face made everything worthwhile.”

Trying to help so many families can often leave the volunteers with “constant sadness every day” but helping a student or family can quickly erase the sadness.

The Place helps students throughout the school year whether by passing out school supplies, tutoring, providing holiday gifts, and running the prom boutique. Information on how to volunteer at The Place can be found on its website.
Photo/The Place Facebook page.

The Place is located at 2550 Place Circle, and is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m-5 p.m and Friday from 8 a.m.-noon.

The Place also operates a facility in Dawson County at 517 Allen Street in Dawsonville.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact John Thompson at

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I've been writing articles around the metropolitan region for 30 years. My work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the NY Post, and other regional newspapers.

Senoia, GA

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