This evening one of our church members who leads us in ministry to the homeless copied me on the email below that she sent to some people interested in assisting with our vision to see lives changed in our community. My heart was not only touched by this letter, but Vicky wrote with pure passion that is shared by our church family. Here is a glimpse into my heart as well for The Community:
I am from Henry County, Virginia near Martinsville. I attend The Community Fellowship, a church in Collinsville, Virginia. Our mission is to demonstrate the love of God to our community.
Henry County has a population of estimated 55,316. As 2007 census 16.1% were living in poverty. According to a count done by the West Piedmont Better Housing Coalition on 1/29/09, 152 homeless were found in this area covering 4 connecting counties while 51 were found in Martinsville/Henry County alone. Ronnie Pannell, continuum of care manager with the Coalitions states that he does not think this count is accurate due to various reasons. He believes the number is much higher.
Jim Tobin, executive director of Piedmont Community Services in Martinsville, states that the national rule of thumb is for every homeless person counted, there are 7 who are not counted. If this is true, in the Martinsville/Henry County are the number would be closer to 360 homeless and 1060 for the 4 county area.
I have a great passion for loving and helping the homeless. After many discussions with my pastor, we know the direction that we need to take.
There is no shelter here in this area and that is a tremendous need. We like to dream God sized dreams and would like to take it even farther than a shelter into a place of opportunity. Opportunities to beat addictions, to learn to read, to learn a job trade. We would like to give hope to the hopeless and broken and let them know that people truly do care about them. A dream center. A place they can come and dream and just maybe make those dreams come true.
The homeless are people and deserve the same basics as any one else. They are deserving of a chance to make it and of love and happiness.
Our greatest opportunity is funding. I am asking any one who can help to please contact me. I need ideas of how to persue this. I need to know about grants (which I know nothing about) and any other information that you may have that could help us to give hope to those who seem to have no hope.
I sincerely appreciate anything that you can offer.
Love in Christ,
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