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Helping others make a Fresh Start

By Dawn Burleigh

dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com

 

One year ago, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church had hopes of obtaining property from the Housing Authority to use as an outreach program called Fresh Start.

Housing Authority City of Orange approved a real estate deal, which provided two triplex housing units to the church.

“We area a church reaching out to the homeless in need of placement,” Reverend Dr. C.W. Crawford said.

Crawford said he preaches the church extends outside the walls of the church.

“We are in need of help from the community to help get the units up and running,” Crawford said. “There are no homeless shelters and other churches will send the homeless to us.”

Many times, at night, homeless persons can be found sleeping on the church pews or on the floor at the church.

“These are people who are at the bottom,” Crawford said. “We give them 90 days to get placed, apply for assistance. Rev. Anthony Jackson helps with the applications. He does this as a volunteer and donating his time.”

Jackson nodded as he continued to assist a young woman, Brenda, with her homework.

“If not for the church, I would no idea where to go,” Brenda said while taking a short break from her studies. “Fresh Start helps a lot. I am getting my high school diploma. It is not just helping me but my children so I can give them a better future.”

Crawford said the situation is not just a Mt. Zion problem but a City of Orange problem as well.

“With no income, it is hard,” Crawford said. “There is no sympathy, no public homeless shelter.”

Crawford said the church received a donation of plywood but time and skills were needed as well to bring the housing units to code.

“Irving Appliances has also helped supply appliances for the cost of delivery,” Crawford said. “We can use the appliances to help train young men. It is about bringing the church beyond the walls.”

The program is looking for those willing to volunteer for office work, canned goods, labor skills, and building supplies.

“There is a need,” Crawford said. “It helps reduce crime. Helps the youngster without an education or housing.”

The church also feed the homeless every other Saturday.

“Whatever gifts you have to help others,” Rev. Anthony Jackson said. “There is a vision of working together to make this come to pass.

If you would like to donate your time or help with materials, call 409-234-9039

The Fresh Start Program assists with housing, education, computer training, rehab and more. For more information call 409-886-3294.