ROCKINGHAM — The inaugural meeting of the newly created Richmond County Rescue Mission organization took place Monday night at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Rockingham.
The purpose of the group is to help those that are homeless in Richmond County. More than 60 people attended the first meeting. The meeting on Monday was to bring together as people to discuss the short term and long term goals for helping out those that are suffering not only through these winter months, but throughout the year.
The primary goal for the group is to eventually have a facility similar to the Raleigh Rescue Mission, which is an organization that helps men and women who are battling life-controlling issues, individuals that need emergency shelter and meeting all the basic needs of those that come through its doors.
“We want to take that first step,” said the Rev. C.J. Smith, youth minister at Mt. Olive. “We don’t expect things to happen over night or even next week. It takes time, but we have to remember that there are people still out in the cold.”
The Baker House, managed by the Mental Health Society of Richmond County, was the county’s sole homeless shelter. All that remains is rubble after an August 2013 fire gutted the shelter when the building next door caught fire.
On Monday, Smith addressed the short-term goals that should be addressed immediately as the group works towards a more permanent facility that will help individuals with more than just food and shelter.
One of those immediate needs is housing. There are currently 10 to 12 homeless people staying at the Economy Motel in Rockingham. They are taking up three rooms and have been staying there for about a week.
“We want to keep them there at least until the end of February,” Smith said.
The cost for the three rooms is $600 per week. The group is hoping to gain traction with the general public so that people will donate to help keep these men and women in a shelter during these bitter cold months.
Food is another need that Smith addressed. He is hoping the group can work together with the owner of the Economy Motel in order to help provide these meals to the people staying there.
“We want to set up a plan where churches, groups and individuals can make meals and drop them off at the lobby at the motel,” Smith said.
While these needs are extremely important, the group does not want to stop here.
“We want something to be in place by next winter,” said Rev. Jason Lutz, pastor at Cartledge Creek Baptist Church in Rockingham. “We want it to be more than just a place to sleep and eat.”
That is where the idea of starting a rescue mission came from. As of now, the group is hoping to work with different government officials in order to begin the set-up of a facility. The idea is at the very start and the group will need all the help it can get to make this a reality.
“We’ll need help through volunteers and even financially,” Lutz said. “Especially as this plan moves forward. We need to be able to start it and sustain it.”
Anyone interested in helping or volunteering for the Richmond County Rescue Mission can send an email to email@example.com or call Mt. Olive Baptist Church at 910-895-9670.