Friday, October 28, 2011

Expansion at the Rescue Mission in Roanoke

Joy Sylvester Johnson at Second Helpings.
Here's a little preview of our November FRONT issue with some inside info that isn't in the magazine and not on the FRONT website. I had lunch with Joy Sylvester Johnston of the Rescue Mission in Roanoke today at the Mission's Second Helpings restaurant and found out some interesting stuff.

The Mission is our Non-profit of the Year for 2011 (you can read about it in the November issue) and since I wrote that story about two weeks ago, a lot has happened to show just how good a selection that was. Here's some of it:

The mission, for the first time in 2011, will go through a year without ever dipping into the black, Joy told me. She says that a year ago the staff took a 10 percent pay cut (nobody has left), but half of that was restored a little while back and the rest will be restored in their next paychecks.

The Mission's board of directors voted yesterday to move its large Thrift Store to the old Foursquare Gospel Church on Elm Ave and call it The Station. The train motif will pervade. "We're hoping to open another version of Second Helping and name it The Whistle Stop," says Joy. The church is a wonderful old building that 25,000 cars pass every day and it has a large parking lot--which the current shop does not have. It was built in the 1930s by members using recycled bricks from Norfolk & Western Railway.

The Mission will invest about $1.5 million in this project and several adjustments at the main buildings, where there will be a few interior moves and renovations. All of the facilities the Mission will use are, as Joy calls them, "re-purposed buildings." The bottom floor of the church will be used for recycling and the second floor for the thirft store. There will be a drive-through for donations.

The old Thrift Store will become a food service facility, allowing the consolidation of several food service venues within the overall facility. The Rescue Mission can serve 300 meals a day now and that will increase to 500 "with all the dining rooms in one place," says Joy.

The basement of the main building will be used for food storage and the existing kitchen and dining room will be converted into a men's shelter, upping capacity from 118 to 160. The Project Wait & Respite space (wherein addicted and alcoholic men are housed--often for some time--until they can be processed) will grow to a capacity of 20. "That will get men out of the women's building," Joy says.

The chronically homeless women who are often at the shelter will be moved to the old Wait and Respite space. Overall, a women's facility that was built to house 130 women, but is often crowded, will expand to a space for 190.

All of this will be done for relatively little money and none of it from the government.

(By the way, here's a tip: Eat at Second Helpings. The food is marvelous and the prices reasonable. You can shop for art when you're finished. It's in the old--very old--Sears Building on Williamson Road.)

1 comment:

  1. Joy was at the SE Forum meeting last night and said they had not voted on this plan. Joy is a member of the SE Forum and Belmont Neighborhood Watch and she had not discussed these plans with us. We had to find out about her plans through an article in the Roanoke Times. This shows she has no regards for our neighborhood. We are very disappointed in Joy Sylvester-Johnson. Also last night we learned of her master plan that had been in place for 10 years to concur the area from 7th St SE to 4th St. SE. There are a lot of home owners over here upset about this because this will lower the property values and will increase crime in our area. The Rescue Mission owns a lot of property in Roanoke and we can't understand why the Rescue Mission has to be concentrated in Southeast Roanoke only. Joy told one lie after the other last night and I have no respect for her at all. I my self took it to the street this past weekend and talked to the homeless on the street, who were consuming alcohol on the street and in the alleys. Each and everyone of them said they lived at the Rescue Mission. However, Joy said last night they didn't live at the mission that they lived in the neighborhood. These people thought I was homeless as well.