ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Soup Kitchen voted Monday to help Place of Grace set up a similar operation on its new campus.
The Soup Kitchen will help recruit volunteers from local churches and nonprofits, and develop other infrastructure Place of Grace will need in the early stages of its soup kitchen, said Carole Venable, who leads the Soup Kitchen’s governing board.
“We want to share our way of doing things so they don’t have to start (from scratch),” Venable said.
The Soup Kitchen will not move any staff to help at Place of Grace, Venable said. Pastor Gary Richardson said the Place of Grace soup kitchen didn’t have a definitive start date but would begin serving “in the near future.”
The soup kitchen will be in the building next to the campus’s main building, at 252 School St. in East Rockingham. It will serve lunch with food donated by the surrounding community and served by volunteers, with assistance from residents at the Richmond County Rescue Mission. Richardson said donations could be dropped off at the School Street location.
“I anticipate a great working relationship (with the Richmond County Soup Kitchen) to help meet the needs of the community,” Richardson said following the vote Monday. “There’s strength in numbers. The more that are willing to get on board, the more we can get done.”
The relationship between Place of Grace and the Soup Kitchen is subject to change as things progress, said Venable, who called the current agreement a “starting place” for the two organizations.
The new soup kitchen, when operational, will be open to the public.
How many people will it serve per meal?
“We will do our best to meet the need,” Richardson said. “No matter how many or how little, meet the need.
“That’s the definition of ministry: find the need and fill it.”
The soup kitchen will be the first in Rockingham since The Baker House burned down in 2013.
New Life Christian Ministries, the group behind Place of Grace, acquired the old Rohanen Middle School building in a trade with the county in July. New Life received the 11.36 acres of the Rohanen property, as well as all of the buildings on the land, and the county received New Life’s 26.25-acre property at 575 Airport Road.
Richardson, CEO of New Life, plans to make Place of Grace a soup kitchen; a homeless shelter for women and children, in addition to the men currently housed at the Place of Grace Rescue Mission; a community center; and a church. He said more sprinklers needed to be installed before people could be housed there.
Economic developer coordinator Martie Butler said the county had no plan for what to do with the land on Airport Road, although County Manager Bryan Land has said, “It does provide us a nice piece of property for future industrial development.”
Volunteers David McCall and Celia Altman of Fellowship Methodist Church, Hamlet, work cheek to jowl in the Richmond County Soup Kitchen last November. Since then, the soup kitchen has acquired donations of new equipment and furniture – and has expanded its kitchen.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]