Mama Lois Coleman, Founder
It is with great sadness that Grace House Ministries announces the death of our founder, “Mama” Lois Coleman. Mama Lois passed away peacefully on March 31st, 2019 at 10:35 pm at the age of 95, surrounded by her beloved family. She is survived by her 5 children, 10 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, 2 great- great-grandchildren, and countless friends and admirers.
In 1923, Lois Coleman was born into a loving, Christian family. Her father was a minister, and he and her mother instilled Christian values into their young daughter. After living through the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Lois Coleman developed patterns of distrust and anger towards authority, and was arrested several times for petty crimes. On all accounts, she was an unlikely candidate to start, much less lead, a Christian home for girls.
However, she experienced a radical transformation after attending a luncheon led by a local missionary—an afternoon that changed her life and would someday change the lives of so many more. She quit her job at the VA Hospital and began doing mission work all over the world with Campus Crusade for Christ and the Wales Goebel Ministry.
Years later, Lois returned to Birmingham and found young girls in her neighborhood flocking to her, in need of and in search of guidance. Lois Coleman’s home became a favorite after-school hangout for neighborhood children. Lois had a basketball goal and a jar full of cookies that drew youngsters to her home. She began a Cultivator’s Club that taught the children grace and manners.
They began calling her “Mama Lois,” and she gained a reputation as a loving, caring adult who would listen to and spend time with children. In addition to being a positive role model, she taught social skills, shared God’s love, and helped with homework. Most importantly she offered patience, affirmation, and love. From these neighborhood encounters grew her dream to have homes where the girls she had grown to love could live and flourish. Mama Lois resolved to devote the rest of her life to improving the futures of young women.
In 1989, Mama Lois convinced area churches and concerned community leaders from Birmingham and the surrounding areas to support and expand her efforts to give hope to more girls in the community. She shared the idea of Grace Village with many local volunteers who rallied behind her, and the first home, dubbed “Grace House” was opened in 1992, with room for eight girls.
Mama Lois’ vision, however, was not finished. She dreamed of even more homes for girls--of transforming the area into a village of homes and safe places for girls to learn and play. Over the course of 25 years, one home for 8 girls has turned into 8 properties with room for 28 girls ages 6-21. Grace House has established a Campus School, Transitional Living Program, and Community Garden, with plans to build an Outreach Center in the next 1-2 years.
We are beyond grateful for the vision that Mama Lois had so many years ago. Mama Lois can often be heard around the office reciting her anthem, “God is gracious,” and those words could not be more true in her life and in the legacy of Grace House Ministries.