ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s homeless shelter will be able to pay off about 2/3 of its lingering debt thanks to the state.
Place of Grace Campus representatives Pastors Gary Richardson and Alex Perakis were presented with a $100,000 check Thursday afternoon by Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Moore.
The funding was part of the $7.725 million allocated for Richmond County from the 2022 Appropriations Act.
“We’re real honored to be here at the Place of Grace today, delivering this check … from the state of North Carolina as an appropriation to support the ongoing operations,” McInnis said. “Gary has done a great job getting this thing started and Alex has come in there with him and they’re doing the Lord’s work in many, many ways.
“We’re saving a lot of people that otherwise could be lost, sleeping under the bridge, and getting them going with some education and some mental health work and the other things that go along with this organization.”
Richardson said POG was “glad to receive it… every bit helps.”
Place of Grace Campus moved into the former Rohanen Middle School in August 2018 after a land swap with the county for the former facility on Airport Road.
However, the ministry still owes around $153,000 on the former building. The check from the state will cover the bulk of that.
“We’re so glad Senator McInnis was able to step in and help us some,” Richardson said, “and getting a $100,000 check from the state is going to be tremendous in lowering the debt on the facility.”
The shelter can currently house around 50 people, with areas for both men and women.
The organization also provides food — 40,000 pounds on Thursday — and clothing to the community, and holds church services.
Operating the shelter isn’t cheap, with utilities, insurance and other costs. Perakis said the power bill runs $4,000-$5,000 each month.
POG has made several improvements to the building, including adding shower areas. Perakis and Richardson said they are currently planning to renovate the kitchen area and cafeteria, add washers and dryers and add more privacy to the women’s area, Richardson said.
“We’d appreciate all the help from the community we could get, just so we can … provide a service for this community that nobody else does … on this scale,” Perakis said.
POG is approaching its “emergency sheltering time” from Nov. 1-Feb. 28, according to Richardson. During that time, Perakis said, they will be offering blankets to those residents who may not be clean (drug-free) enough to stay at the shelter.
Last winter, the shelter housed around 60, according to Perakis.
Perakis and Richardson encourage county residents to donate in one of three ways: time; talent; or treasure. Visit pogcampus.com/give-now to learn more.