ROCKINGHAM — A year after making a land swap with the county, Richmond County’s homeless shelter has received a substantial grant to fund improvements so that it can offer more services.
The Richmond County Rescue Mission recently was awarded a $100,000 from the Richmond Community Foundation Inc. which will go toward new plumbing for, and painting at, the old Rohanen Middle School, according to Pastor Gary Richardson. He said the grant was written pro bono by Benny Cox.
“It’s going to allow them to get this in more of a ready state for the residents here,” said Chuck Thames, chairman of the Rescue Mission’s Board of Directors.
(Disclosure: Thames is a contributor to the Richmond Observer.)
“There’s going to be more needed down the road to keep this thing growing,” Thames added.
The new plumbing will include the installation of showers and commercial-grade washers and dryers, he said Monday afternoon.
“That will also help us to have showers for the ones we’re already housing,” Richardson said. Plus some of the homeless in the community, that’ll give them the opportunity to come shower and wash their clothes, also.”
The grant will also cover a new layer of paint across the 49,750-square-foot residential area.
The Rescue Mission was formed soon after the Baker House burned down several years ago, Thames said.
“We went to Raleigh and checked out the rescue mission there … and partnered with the folks there to find out how a rescue mission should operate,” he said. “We came together with Gary and realized he was off and running, so we backed away and said, ‘Take off with it.’”
At the time, Richardson was starting the Place of Grace mission, first with a tent city on church property for the homeless after they were run off from the tracks, then renting a building to house men — before constructing a permanent shelter.
When Richardson worked out a deal with the county in July of 2018 to move to the old Rohanen Middle School, Thames said they were asked to join forces again.
Only men are currently at the facility, but the plan is to have space for women, children and families.
But Place of Grace is more than just a homeless shelter.
The campus in East Rockingham has a clothing ministry and houses New Life Church, where Richardson preaches. During the school year, there was also an afterschool program.
“We’ve implemented in the Rescue Mission side Ambush Ministries, where they’ll carry the cross, they go out and do the sign ministry every morning out by the hospital,” Richardson said.
They’ve also cut grass for residents in the community as well as for a neighboring church.
“Just trying to find things to be therapeutic for these guys to give back and do something that’s visibly seen for the community to know we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
There are currently recovery classes Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and a women’s only class, Bondage Breakers, for victims of domestic abuse and recovering drug abusers Tuesday’s at 6:30 p.m.
Richardson said they’re planning to implement a summer softball league for youth and adults and a four-team fall youth football league.
The next big improvement project is the sprinkler system, Richardson said.
“The one quote we have right now is $183,000,” he said. “We’re currently getting another quote (and) hoping that comes in substantially less.
“Maybe we can get started on that a little sooner.”