Our new location is still to be determined. If you know of a building that might fit our needs, please email Pastor Jim to: firstname.lastname@example.org. A company with extra space available could receive a tax deduction for donating their location.
For those who are new to this mission, Pastors Jim and Didi Gray share their story…
Our food pantry journey started in Long Island, New York almost three decades ago. I was working for the Urban League (a community service organization). One of the project directors asked me, “Does your church have a food pantry?” I answered, “No.” She said, “Now you do.” From that point in history, I was drafted into my life’s work mission of feeding the hungry.
In 2002, we moved to Hopewell, Virginia, and joined the Redemption Outreach Center family. In 2007 we began managing their food pantry and soup kitchen. We closed the soup kitchen and focused on the significant needs of the community in downtown Hopewell. We expanded the food pantry, and services were added including clothing giveaways and a partnership community resource center. In addition, partnerships were established with referral agencies such as District 19 Community Services (a mental health clinic) who established a 12-step recovery program hosted by a retired District 19 drug counselor, listed companies that hired clients with felonies, Virginia State’s Cooperative Extension Agricultural Center who conducted nutritional cooking classes, and The Free Clinic in Petersburg, VA, who assist the working poor who do not qualify for Medicaid.
In 2015 the Hopewell location moved to the primary Chester church site where we are now, with a focus on food distribution, personal hygiene needs, and clothing giveaways. Today, we are still thriving and helping the hungry. In 2020, our pantry reached families, seniors, and shut-ins that were drastically affected by COVID-19 and job loss. Many people who had never visited a pantry before were anxious and embarrassed coming for help. However, thanks to our wonderful caring volunteers, they left feeling loved and blessed with so much food and toiletries that they were overjoyed with tears.
One of the unique aspects of our pantry is our volunteer staff that come to us from different faiths, churches, colleges, and all walks of life. They are committed to minister to the shared vision of helping feed our communities and loving all people. We have had the honor of touching lives during the most challenging time in history. Our goal for our new location is to continue to reach our community one meal at a time and to reestablish our community referral resource center.
Pastors Jim & Didi Gray