Centers Care for the City: South Richmond Baptist Center

From their earliest beginnings, Richmond Baptists were concerned for the physically and spiritually destitute people of the city. In 1914, Richmond Baptists opened its first Baptist Center. It quickly became a lighthouse for the needy in Richmond. To meet the needs of the growing population, more centers were opened. In 1937, the South Richmond work began. It now carries out its ministries in two locations, the Belt Boulevard location of The Saint Paul’s Baptist Church and a satellite location at 5500 Germain Road, Richmond, VA 23224.

When asked about the main impact of the Center, the Director, Rev. Wesley Garrett, quickly replied, “our food ministry.”  Like most conversations with him, there are many sides to this story. He described what happened during the last few days:

“I had a family call and tell me that they have meats (chicken mostly) that we can give to the families that come for food. We have not been able to purchase frozen foods in a while because we just haven’t had the funds. In the last few years, we spent a lot of our funds getting the Satellite location up and running which drew down a lot of our funds. The person donating the food lives in Petersburg, and last week she donated over 40 large packs of chicken wings which went quickly as we distributed the food. Going to Petersburg took up much of a day this week, because she also donated the two small freezers that held the food.”

Wesley responded when asked about a typical day:

“Today was a typical day. I spent much of my time helping two of our youth complete job applications. Then I helped two other youth. One young man needed a bed to sleep on. One [a bed] was offered by a friend of mine, so we went to pick it up. Another young man needed food and transportation, so we took him along to pick up the bed. After returning from the bed pick up and going by the local goodwill store, we found a bicycle for his transportation needs. We had to rent a truck to get the bed and take him home with groceries and the bike.”

When asked what “tugs” at your heart the most, Wesley replied:

“What we really could use is a ‘jobs’ resource for the youth (usually around 22 years old) that need a helping hand in finding and keeping jobs. Many of them do not have the transportation so they rely on public transportation. Many of the youth I deal with just need a hand up in order to get a comfortable job.

“Also River Road could help with men’s clothing for job interviews and casual clothing for working. Many times we receive suits and such, but “casual but smart” would be much better. We also need belts, dress shoes, and nicer work shoes. We never seem to have any. Bus passes for these young men, as they begin jobs, would help them tremendously.

“Some families could use basic household items. As soon as we are able to repair the annex building at the Satellite location, we plan to start building the furniture and clothing ministry. Right now the building needs work on walls, ceilings and, of course, heating.

“River Road could also help in seasonal activities like Easter candy (not a lot) or valentine candy. Gatorade and bottled water is needed.

We are trying to build our after school and weekend ministry in the Satellite neighborhood, but it is moving very slowly.  In the winter months we did have some football Sundays where children came over after church.”

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Prayer.  Pray for the staff and volunteers as they strive to share Christ’s love with their neighbors.
  • Financial Support and Donations.  The Center is always in need of supplies to run the various programs. While the Board of Missions budgets to assist the center, specific collections or donations arise during the year.

Written by Bob Shoemake