ROCKINGHAM — The Place of Grace Rescue Mission on Airport Road will be moving into its new building within three weeks, said Pastor Gary Richardson of New Life Church.
“We’re hoping to be in this building within the next few weeks and move the men in here,” Richardson said. “Pastor Alex (Perakis) is looking at the floors, and he’s going to stain the floors for us and prep ‘em, get ‘em all finished up.”
Richardson said getting to this point has been a group effort shared by a generous community and “a great bunch of guys” now living in the ministry’s original building — a leased property not far from the church.
“Johnny Stogner is putting in our heat and air,” Richardson said. “Norman Bland is doing our kitchen for us, so he’s already been by and measured everything. And Al’s Plumbing, he’s going to come finish setting up the commodes, and sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen.”
He said he is thankful to the community for helping the Place of Grace come so far from its humble beginnings as a tent city for the homeless in 2014.
“All the guys who are coming in are doing well,” he said of the residents. “They’re getting jobs, getting back on their feet.”
Richardson said people coming through the program are getting their general education diplomas and finding work in local companies and through Mega Force.
“That’s temporary of course, but it gets them out and starts giving them some responsibility and accountability for what they’re doing,” Richardson added.
During last weekend’s storm, several Place of Grace residents went out assessing damage. After the storm passed, they went to work doing what they could to help clean up, Richardson said.
“We had trees that were down on cars and peoples’ houses in the community,” he said. “So we sent our guys and went out and just cut trees off of peoples’ vehicles so they could get out. That’s worked out real well.”
He said the many partnerships with other programs, churches and civic organisations have been critical to changing the lives of people hoping for a fresh start.
“Pastor Anthony Peters, who is coordinator for the Place of Grace now, is doing a fantastic job with the guys,” Richardson said. “He’s a full-time student at (Richmond Community College) and is a pastor on staff here at New Life Church.”
Richardson said all of them are excited about moving into the new building.
“We just feel like when we get here, we’ll finally be home,” he explained.
The Place of Grace is serving a family of five in its women’s shelter — which is currently being used for displaced families — and 14 residents in the main rescue mission building.
“And then we have three who are living in a transitional home who are working full time,” Richardson added. “They’re getting on their feet, saving money, getting stuff out from over their heads, paying debts and bills and tickets and all these things off. It’s working out wonderfully.”
He added that one of the ministry’s partners is Bridge of the Sandhills, headed by Bob Hubert, that visits residents once a month for counseling services.
“One of the guys on his team recognized one of the folks in our shelter from about three years ago, and said that he really just almost seemed to be possessed,” Richardson recalled. “And they just prayed for him and prayed for him, but when they saw him here, they just though he’d had a 100 percent turn-around. He works full time now and is fixing to move out next week.”
Asked about the flooding in near-by counties, Richardson said his group is in the early stages of coordinating assistance missions.
“We’re looking forward to putting a group together,” he said. “I know the Baptist Men are already going, and as soon as we can get settled here, we’ll take a group of guys down there for some projects. We want to participate in helping out in our surrounding communities.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.