For over three decades, our church has lovingly opened our doors to neighbors in crisis through CARITAS. Our church has continually provided homemade meals, a warm, safe place to stay and time to share their stories and provide activities. Through CARITAS our congregation witnesses how ‘many hands make light work’ for every person in crisis that came through our doors. Soon, these same neighbors will be welcoming us through their very own doors to continue our partnership in helping elevate people out of crisis.

The Healing Place for Men has made the transition from mobile shelter to housing all their male clients at the 700 Dinwiddie Avenue location. That location will continue their best-practices model offering emergency shelter, workforce development, and transitional sober living for men in our community. RRCB and all the partner congregations of CARITAS have begun embracing this evolution in care for our most disadvantaged neighbors. Volunteers regularly go on-site to provide a 200-person dinner, weekly lunches for the 34 emergency shelter men and weeknight activities for everyone. Each time RRCB signs up for a week, we have volunteers trying out new ways to do things and new activities to offer. In this time of transition our help is continually needed as well as our understanding that change comes with some growing pains and continued adjustments.

Up until now, CARITAS could not offer a full suite of services to women as they do for men. The CARITAS Center is an answer to a long-awaited prayer. A prayer for more services to help even more women in need—all under one roof. With a target completion date of Spring 2020, The CARITAS Center (former Philip Morris USA blended leaf complex at 2220 Stockton Street) will feature 150,000 square feet for:

  • CARITAS: The organization’s administrative offices.
  • The Healing Place for Women: A substance use recovery program available to low-income women in the region, a sister program to the agency’s current program The Healing Place for Men.
  • 47-Sober Living Apartments: For graduate’s transitioning and for qualifying community members.
  • Furniture Bank: A social enterprise accepting furniture donations and refurbishing them for sale or donation to low-income households.
  • Emergency Shelter: This new facility will replace the mobile, congregation-based model that has operated in the Richmond region for more than 30 years.
  • CARITAS Works: A workforce development program for men and women facing significant barriers to employment.
  • This site will also contain a chapel, a family playroom (for mothers to have visitation with their children), a volunteer room, laundromat, boardroom and leasable office space for other non-profit organizations.

We are excited for this amazing resource and how this community effort can potentially change the landscape of homelessness and addiction in our city.

As the needs come in from CARITAS, we will engage RRCB members to help meet those needs. Once the new CARITAS Center is opened, we will celebrate with our neighbors and engage in new ways to be a meaningful partner through crisis recovery.

Caring for those who are experiencing crisis takes a village, Thank You for being our CARITAS Village! CARITAS needs you more than ever to continue transforming people’s lives and our city of Richmond.

Written by Laurie Gray
Originally published in the October 2019 edition of the Explorer