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Charlotte nonprofit surprises single mother and her daughters with new home and car

Gracious Hands helps women and their children achieve stability by providing housing and teaching life skills.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte nonprofit Gracious Hands surprised a single mother and her two daughters Thursday with a new home and car. The family has been working hard to gain stability after battling homelessness.

Gracious Hands houses homeless women and their children. Its Building Blocks program is a phased approach to help families repair their lives beyond housing.  

"We give them the tools -- the budget and finance, the credit repair, life coaching for the women and the children,” founder Sonja Chisolm explained.

The goal is to create generational wealth and upward mobility for the families they help. 

The organization's latest accomplishment is getting its third house, furnishing it, and renting it out at a reduced price to a family in need. 

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April Samuels and her two daughters were surprised with the house on Thursday. The children had no idea they were getting a house and Samuels was surprised that it came fully furnished and decorated.

When they opened the door for the first time, members of Gracious Hands yelled, "Welcome home!" 

There were many happy tears and moments of excitement.

Samuels said she is feeling grateful and blessed for the opportunity. She is excited to move out of communal housing and give her daughters their own rooms.  

"That’s the best part," she told WCNC Charlotte.

In another surprise, Gracious Hands also gifted Samuels her very own car. Samuels was speechless and held her face in her hands as she walked out to the driveway.

"I don’t know what to say," Samuels said with a smile sitting in the driver's seat.

It’s the first time Gracious Hands has given away a car. The nonprofit has housed more than 350 women over the last eight years and says it’s transitioned more than 75% of them into permanent housing and stability.  

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

To keep helping mothers, Chisolm said they could use more private donors.  

"The more houses we can get, the more people we can serve," Chisolm added. 

Gracious Hands has 150 applications from women hoping to join the Building Blocks program. Those interested in helping can do so by volunteering, donating, or sponsoring a family.

The organization's website says it costs about $400 a month to provide shelter for each family at their facility.

The website says, "families are allowed to live at Gracious Hands for up to one year.  We provide our residents with food, employment opportunities, education, parenting classes, life skills training, budgeting classes, soul coaching and any other resources needed in order for them to transition into their own independence."

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram  

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.  


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