A GOOD START
Approaching our first birthday, we wanted to give a progress report to all of you who have helped The Grace Place opened its doors and jump into service.
Opened now Tuesday through Friday, 8-4 at 206 Pettit Street in Batesville, we presently serve 171 walk-in clients and a loyal group of volunteers. Persons are generally referred by churches or find us by word-of-mouth and are interviewed to discern needs and issues, then offered Christian counseling as well as clothing, furniture, and groceries as needed. After two visits, before receiving more supplies, the counselees are urged to join one of the financial education classes offered at Grace Place by First Security Bank officers Belinda Morris and Harlin Fox. Recently, one excited attendee exclaimed, “I never knew any of this! I will never go back to my old ways!”
Besides giving help for social and financial needs, we have seen several clients respond sincerely to the gospel message when it was clearly presented by our counselors.
We have huge hopes for providing emergency shelter facilities, short-term housing, and residential drug rehabilitation for men and women in time-frames long enough to get them healed, hired, reunited with their families, and re-established in society. However, those will take large-scale funding, and we are presently working with a grant-researcher for direction in how to apply for financial aid for present and future projects.
DOING WHAT WE CAN NOW
Unexpectedly, after hiring Mike French as Benevolence director, his background in the grocery business providentially brought us a connection with Heartland Ministries in Southaven, which resulted in our receiving some large overages of perishable groceries every other week. We were instantly put into the food distribution business—a great plus for our needy clients! This takes a lot of organization and hard work. Both the Kroger company and individuals have donated freezers and refrigerators; Mike had the ability to get them up and running. We always need volunteers to load, sort, mark thru UPC labels, box, and deliver these regularly.
About 80 at-risk senior citizens in Batesville and Sardis are receiving deliveries twice a month, with 28 more people to be added soon in Como. This is in addition to the food distributed to walk-in clients and among the two dozen Restoring Hope families. (Restoring Hope families also receive furniture and home goods as needed.)
CATCHING THE VISION
Rev. Willie Don Chapman, along with sons Donnell and Terance, has offered our first after-school activity for area children in a Christian Karate program 4 times a week, which teaches physical fitness, self-control, moral character, and respect for others.
Myra Simmons brainstormed a Vacation Bible School in July, making use of extra materials and volunteers from area churches. Refreshments came from our grocery supplies.
Recently South Panola Coach Jemmy Helmes decided to give hands-on experience to her sociology students and bussed them 20 at a time to help sort and clean the furniture and household goods we use to help families who have been burned out or are trying to meet DHS standards to retain custody of their children.
Area church youth groups have volunteered for various projects since we opened.
Pastor Walter Williams faithfully leads prayer time for our ministries on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in our sanctuary.
Celebrate Recovery uses our facilities for meetings and classes weekly, and another group from Alcoholics Anonymous will begin soon.
WHAT WE NEED
Regular financial donations. We were amazingly blessed with big and small donations in the last 18 months that allowed us not only to purchase these buildings at 206 and 209 Pettit Street with no debt, but also to do the most necessary repairs on them and pay the insurance and utilities required to use them. The first year’s salaries of the director and assistant director were one donor’s gift, but we now need even more donors and regular giving to continue our work into the new year. To function with present and projected services, we need at least $10,000 per month.
Some of your churches and civic groups have been part of the monthly giving that is so necessary to our survival. Most of you receiving this report are one-time or regular givers yourselves, and we are so grateful.
Since our biggest volunteer-base is 60+ years old, we are in need of a truck with a “tommy-gate” lift soon for the heavy-lifting required for grocery runs from Southaven or furniture pickups for our other ministries.
We have had some whom we have helped return to us with cash gifts or volunteer service to “pay it forward” to others. We have seen many volunteers joyfully come to work again, wide awake to the serious needs right here and now. Business owners offer their workers and donate supplies. Sunday School classes and youth groups deliver groceries and befriend clients.
Board of Directors
Joe May, President
John Howell, Vice President
Marni McKenzie, Secretary
Bob Wadsworth, Treasurer
Jeffery Bean, Member
Jonathan Garner, Member
Benevolence Director: Mike French
Assistant Director: Michael Worsham
Brenda Mapes, Receptionist, data-processor
Betty Campbell, clothing organizer
Pamela Crowder, Counselor