ROCKINGHAM – Pastor Gary Richardson has lengthy experience working with those afflicted by addiction and/or homelessness, having once been affiliated with the Dream Center of Los Angeles.
He works tirelessly to improve our county’s ability to provide a safe refuge for individuals desiring to make positive change. This refuge is the Place of Grace Rescue Mission, a ministry of New Life Church. As Richardson states, “It exists to give people a hand-up, not a handout.”
Currently, the Place of Grace houses and feeds up to 16 men in their new building on the church property at 571 Airport Road in Rockingham.
“We assist residents in obtaining employment and education,” Richardson said.
The ministry also maintains a transitional house which will accommodate up to five men. According to Richardson, “the transitional house is for those who have stayed at the shelter and have shown progress in an ability to provide for themselves.” These men are employed and can pay a small monthly rent to offset some of the expenses of this home.
Richardson noted that new residents are screened for certain mental conditions to ensure the safety of all residents. Medications are discussed with residents upon entry; narcotics are prohibited.
All residents are given house rules and are required to sign a document stating that they understand the curfews and requirements of the Place of Grace. Also, every resident must attend all church services and events.
Additionally, residents are screened for their educational status and if they do not have a high school diploma, they must obtain a GED. Richmond Community College has partnered with Place of Grace to provide this support. Place of Grace staff also assists residents in obtaining employment. An on-site van is utilized to transport residents as needed.
The current building for Place of Grace has long been a vision of Richardson’s. In June 2014, Richardson helped establish a tent city on New Life Church property for those needing refuge. In November 2014, a building was rented on Airport Road to house individuals in need.
Then, in December 2016, Richardson and New Life Church saw their vision become a reality in the new facility built on church property. Although Place of Grace does not have the ability to house women and children, Richardson states that visions for the future include funding for a new building to house them.
When asked how the community could help this ministry, Richardson stated, “Although monetary donations are always needed, it would be nice if a group or individual could sponsor an outing or special event for the guys.”
Efforts toward preventing homelessness “must be transformative for lasting change” (Place of Grace website).
To donate or learn more about this ministry, visit www.placeofgracerockingham.org.