Being Jesus' Hands and Feet to the Homeless
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
Thursday night at this apartment complex is known as Bob’s Bingo night. It may seem like a simple game, but for the volunteers and the residents it’s much more.
Virginia Supportive Housing created Gosnold Apartments as the first permanent housing development for homeless adults in Hampton Roads, Virginia. By the end of this year, they will be housing nearly a thousand people across the state.
Executive Director Alice Tousignant explains: “Our goals are to get people off the streets and stabilize them in housing. And then provide services so that they become independent. We measure our success by making sure that people don’t return to homelessness.”
The organization has a 98% success rate. That success is due, in part, to the sense of community built by local churches. “Bingo Bob” and his fellow volunteers from First Baptist Church of Norfolk have come every week for the last five years.
“They needed fellowship. They needed people who would be consistent and faithful to them,” says Bob Williams, a volunteer with First Baptist Church. “So we started looking for what kinds of things that we would do to add value to their new living here.” And Bingo night was born! Residents compete for prizes and enjoy a meal together.
“These are strong relationships that really help people understand that their lives can be transformed,” says Alice, “So it’s that hope that really makes a big difference.”
Michael was homeless for much of his adult life and has been a resident at Gosnold Apartments for five years. He says that the support he received gave him the hope he needed to break the cycle of homelessness. “For the first time I met positive people that show me that I’m not a throwaway. That I wasn’t a mistake like my family taught me,” says Michael. “Bob is a real generous person and not only Bob, but everybody at First Baptist that knows me. If I need anything, like a family they’re there for me and they support me. Virginia Supportive Housing is a blessing because it’s a stepping stone up to better things.”
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