Many people expect to enjoy retirement in their 60s. But not Lois Coleman.
At the tender age of 69, and after raising five children of her own, she began a new life mission caring for young girls in need of guidance. Known affectionately as “Mama Lois,” Coleman started Grace House Ministries in the Fairfield community near Birmingham in 1992, acting as a mother figure to the young ladies she mentored.
She saw a need to help young girls who were in crisis, or who came from troubled homes and needed the stability, encouragement and life skills while transitioning to an adult. While she initially welcomed them into her personal home, Grace House was created to mentor more young women in need.
Since Grace House began with one home in Fairfield, the campus has expanded to several properties. With increased space, the number of girls helped has also grown and will continue to do so.
Pamela Phipps is the executive director overseeing the campus growth. Mama Lois, at 94 years young, refers to herself as Moses and calls Phipps her Joshua (based on biblical characters).
Phipps said she “literally sat at the feet of Mama Lois to learn everything about Grace House.”
Phipps, whose background is in modeling and mentoring young women, said she has graciously taken over the mantle and will work to honor Mama Lois’ legacy and lifelong passion to mentor young women. Phipps says while the young ladies may enter a bit cautiously, she and her staff pride themselves on helping them move into Grace House with the utmost skill and compassion.
Once the girls come to the program, they are connected with house parents before being shown their room. The parents are a husband and wife team who provide family guidance for the young ladies. Another adult staffer relieves the house parents to rest for a few days out of each month.
Endeavoring to offer a thorough care program as these young women move to adulthood, Grace House not only provides a Youth Program, which serves those ages 6-18, but also a Transitional Living Program, which serves young women ages 18-24.
*Alabama NewsCenter will feature Living History profiles each Wednesday in February.