DOBBINS HEIGHTS — A Richmond County radio personality is bringing together faith leaders and job training services in an attempt to put a dent in the homelessness problem.
Ronald David, host of the Blessed Life Morning Show on WAYN, said he was inspired to help the homeless when he saw people on the streets while delivering fresh collard greens he grew in his garden.
“God put this in front of me,” David said. “This wasn’t my idea, it was God’s.”
A resident of Dobbins Heights for the last three years, David has worked to fight homelessness with his church when he lived in Charlotte and worked with relief efforts in Haiti.
The April 28 event will host at least four local pastors as speakers, and 30 vendors, according to David. Those vendors will include Richmond Community College, the M.E. Green House, a substance abuse treatment facility in Southern Pines, and NC Works.
RCC will be sharing information about its College and Career Readiness classes which provide free courses to prepare for the GED or HiSET tests. Taking the GED costs a total of $80, the HiSET costs a total of $50.
“We want to make sure that people are prepared (to take those tests) because it can be expensive if you keeping taking them and not passing,” said RCC Spokesperson Wiley Bell.
David is working with Milton Ellerbe, CEO of M.E. Green House, a substance abuse treatment facility in Southern Pines, to connect individuals with transitional housing at the festival. David said he has a three-bedroom house that will be available May 1 at a reduced rent to allow a family or individual to have a stable place to live for six months to a year while they get back on their feet. He and Ellerbe will also work to connect those individuals with the local community during that time.
“One of the key things I’ve found is that you can’t give people stuff and send them right back out on the street,” David said, adding that the most important thing you can do for a homeless person is to “teach them to be self-sufficient.”
Through individual contributions and fundraisers organized by youth members of Mount Carmel Free Will Baptist Church in Hamlet, David will provide free toiletries for the homeless at the festival.
M.E. Green House will have a booth at the festival where Ellerbe said they will educate people on the nature of addiction, the process of getting treatment and the job preparedness services the facility offers. Ellerbe said M.E. Green House takes a holistic approach to issues caused by addiction which include homelessness, depression and child abuse.
“A lot of times people get comfortable (in a bad situation) and what we do is show them that they’re not forgotten…A lot of (homeless people) have been kicked out of their homes and rightfully so, but we give them a way to start over,” he said. “Hopefully we can help change some lives.”
David received approval from the Town Council to use the Dobbins Heights Community Park for the event. The festival will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Food will be provided by the East Rockingham Fire Department free of charge and there will be games for children, according to David.
Dobbins Heights Town Councilmember Angeline David, whose husband is Ronald’s cousin, she was proud that the council could support the festival.
“(Ronald) is one of our citizens and any time we have someone that’s willing to help our people I’m very proud of them,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that we don’t know about that are homeless.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]