Southwestern Virginia has been hit hard with the economic issues that plague our country. In Martinsville and Henry County, poverty has become commonplace, drug/alcohol addiction is rampant and gangs are more violent and prevalent. These factors help create a moral decay and result in a rising homeless population. Martinsville has an official unemployment rate hovering around 20% and existing resources are being rapidly depleted. More and more people are finding themselves in dire need of help with no resources available.
A small Martinsville shelter serves women and children, leaving husbands and fathers with nowhere to turn. Men of all walks of life are finding themselves homeless or on the edge of homelessness in Martinsville and Henry County. This need is rapidly approaching critical levels and The Community Dream Center (TCDC) desires to be part of the solution.
TCDC believes that healing for broken people is desperately needed. First, a person’s physical needs must be met. Then, a person’s spiritual needs can be addressed. Lasting healing and hope only comes through a relationship with God. By meeting needs, TCDC hopes to win the right to speak into the lives of hurting people the truth that is life changing.
Mission and Purpose
The Community Dream Center (TCDC) is a non-profit outreach dedicated to helping Martinsville / Henry County and surrounding areas. This ministry provides hope by meeting both tangible and spiritual needs.
TCDC strives to help solve moral decay, homelessness and poverty that exist in our nation. The vision of TCDC is to rebuild the dreams of broken people. A new life can be obtained through the efforts of our staff, volunteers, and rehabilitated individuals whose lives have dramatically changed.
TCDC seeks to partner with people and organizations. TCDC will not attempt to replace the many different helping agencies, churches and other private and government organizations. TCDC desires to fill in the gaps and be a central networking center to help meet the community’s most basic and greatest needs.
TCDC will be available to those in need. TCDC operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. TCDC will provide food, clothing, shelter (both emergency and transitional), life rehabilitation, biblical training, and limited education and job readiness training for people in need.
In 2006, together with a group of like minded individuals, Pastor Michael Harrison began to seek ways to help hurting people. This vision led to the formation of The Community Fellowship (TCF). (www.thecommunityfellowship.org) In September of 2010, Pastor Michael and a team of volunteers visited the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA doing hands on volunteering and brought back a clarified vision. The Dream Center has created a wave of life improvements and demonstrates those changes with impressive statistics in the inner city Los Angeles area. In the first four years of the Dream Center’s establishment, prostitution and gang violence dropped 73%, the homicide rate dropped 28% and rape dropped 53%.
TCDC was organized in December of 2010 in the hopes that together as a community, a similar revolution can be created here in Southwestern VA.
The Community Fellowship (TCF) has been assisting our community in numerous ways since the inception and has grown every year. Every August, book bags, school supplies, gently used clothes are distributed and brand new shoes are put on the feet of area school children. In 2010, over 1,000 children were served with the Back 2 School event. TCF has an ongoing feeding ministry and clothes closet. These ministries have assisted hundreds of people in our community.
The residents of TCDC’s campus will assist in these ministries and many others. The residents of TCDC will put in multiple hours of community service as part of the transitional program. This is a key component of the Dream Center model as residents give back to the community, learn skills and transform their lives.
Classes such as parenting, CPR, financial assistance, diabetes and more are currently offered and this service will continue to grow with TCF and TCDC. Additionally, partnerships will be formed with existing organizations that offer job training or education to allow residents to make positive changes in their financial circumstances.
How It Works
The TCDC campus will house two major aspects of this project. The first is a homeless shelter that will house men. Residents will enter this shelter for a seven day period, which is renewable depending on space availability and the person’s need. A person can come to the shelter through local agencies, churches or law enforcement. TCDC staff, in conjunction with partner organizations, will assist residents with meeting their current and future needs as part of a life plan designed to allow them to reenter society as a productive citizen.
The second piece is the TCDC discipleship / transition program. This begins with a thorough screening process to ensure that residents are ready for the yearlong program of work, study and highly regimented activity. Each resident must agree to TCDC's rules and regulations, which includes a zero tolerance drugs/alcohol/tobacco policy, limited contact with family and friends and a rigorous structured daily schedule. Visitors must be screened and identified on TCDC campus at all times. Residents are closely supervised with staff and a security team that will be on duty 24 hours a day.
TCDC has strong support within the community and this has been demonstrated in multiple ways. Some large donations have provided seed monies and many organizations have expressed interest in partnering with this initiative. A very successful fundraiser was held in conjunction with the Citizens Against Family Violence to raise funds and spread awareness of the homeless issues. Over 50 local businesses and organizations sponsored a 5k run/walk, known as the Hope for the Homeless held in March 2011.
The Board is actively seeking property in the more depressed areas of Martinsville and Henry County area. TCDC desires to create positive change where it is most needed. Each opportunity will be carefully screened for suitability. The search for property continues as the need increases.
After a campus for TCDC is secured, mission teams from both local and distant churches will be a regular presence at TCDC as they represent a critical component of the vision. Each team will bring their skills and abilities to serve this project and people then go back to their own churches and communities to share the experience and knowledge gained.