Joni and Friends Mississippi seeks permit to build respite center in Gluckstadt

A respite center planned for Gluckstadt could serve up to 30 families of individuals living...
A respite center planned for Gluckstadt could serve up to 30 families of individuals living with disabilities.(Dale Partners/Joni and Friends Mississippi)
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 9:44 AM CDT
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GLUCKSTADT, Miss. (WLBT) - A tract of land in the northeast corner of Gluckstadt could soon be home to a sanctuary for people living with disabilities, their families and their caregivers.

Recently, the Gluckstadt Planning and Zoning Board agreed to recommend a request for a conditional use permit for Joni’s House.

Once constructed, Joni’s House will be a respite center for individuals/families touched by disability. Joni and Friends Mississippi is an area office of Joni and Friends International Christian organization that serves people with disabilities.

The recommendation now must go to the Gluckstadt mayor and board of aldermen for final approval. If it goes through, a ground-breaking ceremony for the first phase as early as August, with construction beginning in January.

Martie Kwasny, regional operations director of Joni and Friends in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, says the need for the respite center is great.

“One in four adult families is touched by a disability nationally... In the state of Mississippi, we have one in three families touched by a disability,” she said. “Respite is the No. 1 need for these families to have a respite and that’s what we’re trying to provide.”

Phase one will include building the respite center and potentially a facility for a day program to serve families. The architectural plan was drawn up by Dale Partners.

“We’ll have a coffee shop – a spot where those with disabilities can work and come and serve and give back to the community. We will have a barn for our barnyard dance that we’ve hosted for the last 16 years. And we’ll also be able to provide retreats for our families.”

Kwasny said families participating in those retreats now have to travel out of state for larger events.

The new development will provide the lodging and other space needed to provide for those getaways locally.

“The respite center will be able to serve at least 30 families,” she said.

Construction is expected to cost around $16 million, which is expected to come through donations. Fundraising will begin once the conditional use permit is approved by the city.

A conditional use permit is needed because part of the property is currently zoned for agricultural land and commercial use, Kwasny said.

Meanwhile, Joni and Friends is embarking on other projects as well, including expanding events like the Magnolia Classic Dodgeball Tournament into Louisiana.

The fundraiser, according to an obituary published in the Clarion-Ledger, was created by the late Andrew Seago, a member of the board of directors for Joni and Friends Mississippi.

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