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Key Victories from 2014
This month, we’re not sharing a new story from our work, but are instead sharing a report on some of Grace and Main’s and Third Chance Ministries’ most important victories from the year 2014. In a way, these short descriptions of success tell a story of their own and we’d love to hear what story you think they tell about the work to which we’re committed and which your donations make possible. Thanks.
Grace and Main Fellowship’s 5th Anniversary
This November, Grace and Main Fellowship (the intentional, Christian community of which Third Chance Ministries is a ministry and which is the foundation of all of our work so far) celebrated its 5th Anniversary!
Hospitality and Housing Security
Over 30 people increased their housing security through the work of Grace and Main Fellowship and Third Chance Ministries in 2014. In many cases, this increase in housing security is most accurately described as moving from homelessness to having shelter. In other cases, this increase is more accurately described as moving from an unstable living situation (e.g., slumlord owned property, living in an abusive situation, living in unaffordable or unsustainable shelter, etc.) to a stable living situation. The largest and most critical steps in this work were taken by the seven Grace and Main homes that provided shelter in their extra bedrooms and living rooms as part of their commitment to hospitality and a shared life.
Grace and Main Fellowship hosted 52 dinners at various locations in 2014, including our homes, church fellowship halls, in the courtyard of apartment buildings, on a farm, and in a few different parks. Some of these meals were large affairs, like our Thanksgiving meal at Ascension Lutheran with turkey and all the sides for 126 or Christmas dinner at First Baptist with ham, veggies, and dessert for 136. Others were small meals where we gave thanks for all the places where the Kingdom of God was popping up and ate in the homes of formerly homeless people while conspiring together about where next God was going to work a wonder in our midst.
Breakfast and the Coffee Pot
In 2014, we served nearly 4,000 meals through our weekly breakfast on the Northside. This breakfast—started by two formerly homeless Grace and Main members—is sustained by the work of Bruce Hopson and the surrounding neighborhood’s desire to offer hospitality and grace in the midst of hunger, poverty, addiction, and homelessness. Furthermore, through our community coffee pot and water cooler—set out each morning—we provided over 800 gallons of coffee, water, lemonade, sweet tea, and Kool-Aid to any and all who were thirsty or in need of something warm. In an unexpected turn, the coffee pot and water cooler has become a community gathering point, as well.
The Tool Library
Due to the generosity of a number of supporters, we’ve been expanding the capacity of our “tool library” on North Main St. This year, we added new trimmers, new lawnmowers, new power tools, and new hand tools, along with personal protective equipment. In the spring, summer, and fall, the tool library was utilized by neighborhood residents nearly every day of the week. In the winter months, it was still put to excellent use multiple times each week.
Jefferson Apartment Building
After four years of developing relationships, building trust and community, and lots of lunches and parties, we were able to help the tenants of an apartment building on Jefferson Ave—a building called “unfit for humans” by the media in the aftermath of its condemnation—organize together to obtain their rights.
This year, some of our leaders mediated more directly between the tenants and the landlord: helping the tenants to send letters, organizing and facilitating meetings with the landlords, and working with Legal Aid to get the legal support the tenants needed to attain their rights. We worked with the tenants and other community organizations, including Virginia Organizing, Legal Aid, STEP, and DPCS. Eventually, the building was condemned.
Through the hard work of the tenants, Grace and Main leaders (both among the tenants and not), and our summer “missionary in residence” from Student.Go, all of the former residents of the building now have a secure place to stay that is healthier and far, far better. Two of the former residents are now “developing leaders” within Grace and Main following their success on Jefferson.
3rd Annual Jubilee
Our 3rd Annual Jubilee in Doyle Thomas park (on Green St) was a success again this year. We partnered with five different congregations to make this event possible and over 220 people joined us for a cookout, celebration, and community building day of games and sharing.
ELCA Hunger Grant We applied for and received a grant in collaboration with one of our congregational partners (Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, VA) to address hunger and food insecurity in the neighborhoods where we live and serve. This included a number of individual projects directed at not only providing urgent and crisis hunger relief, but also long term systemic changes to the way food is acquired in the neighborhoods through gardening, education, and resource provision.
House of Hope Lunches
As part of our ongoing commitment to our local homeless shelter, the House of Hope, we once again packed a lunch for every resident of the shelter every day of the year. This year, that means we packed and delivered almost 4,000 lunches through a combination of partners, mission groups, and personal work. This brings our total to over 17,000 lunches pack since the beginning of the Grace and Main.
Outsider/Insider Art Show
We were able to host our first ever “Outsider/Insider Art Show,” highlighting the art of folks who are struggling or have struggled with homelessness, poverty, addiction, and/or hunger.