First Light is a four-story building located on the corner of 4th Avenue North and 23rd Street in downtown Birmingham. The shelter is located in what used to be known as the city’s center of drug dealing, drug abuse and prostitution- the Granada Hotel. When the first couple of floors of the hotel burned, community leaders launched a capital campaign. The generosity of Birmingham's downtown businesses, foundations, churches and individual donors brought about the renovation of the Granada Hotel. It was redesigned especially for the needs of the homeless women and children in Birmingham, and reinvented to be a place of
It is interesting to note that most spaces are multi-purpose. The day room and dining room transform into the overflow shelter each evening. The program room where group therapies are conducted is also used for weekly Art Therapy classes. We have a fully-stocked commercial kitchen: volunteers either prepare meals at home to bring them in to serve or they come and prepare meals from scratch. There is a walk-in refrigerator, pantry, commercial-size freezer, convection oven, conventional oven, pizza oven, with plenty of counter/workspace for food prep. First Light stocks all staple items while volunteers provide the bulk of the meals served.
Because of our emphasis on helping our guests feel safe, a secured outside courtyard is provided in which the women can smoke, eat meals, visit with each other, or to get some fresh air. A beautiful mural adorns the wall in the courtyard- a heartfelt depiction of the city of Birmingham and First Light completed by Josiah Bell of First Presbyterian Church as an Eagle Scout project.
Why is the building so CLEAN?
The only thing asked of our guests is that they take personal responsibility for keeping their personal space and communal space neat and clean. They are expected to complete one chore every day, which usually takes less than 10 minutes. We believe that accountability and responsibility are important to the building of character. The kitchen and offices are kept clean and orderly thanks to the wonderful work of our Shelter Assistants. See photos or visit the emergency shelter to see for yourself!