Home Local ministry on the ground helping Waynesboro’s homeless survive, thrive

Local ministry on the ground helping Waynesboro’s homeless survive, thrive

Crystal Graham
frankie hollingsworth
Frankie Hollingsworth, Reprieve Ministries, submitted

Frankie Hollingsworth, and his wife, Dawn, through their nonprofit, Reprieve Ministries, work with unsheltered individuals in Waynesboro throughout the year.

Their goal, Frankie said, is to help Waynesboro’s homeless survive by keeping them dry and warm by providing them with sleeping bags, blankets and wood. They started, in large part, providing Sunday meals to the homeless – and giving them a place to stay for a few hours each week.

Many of those on the streets or who lived in Tent City before their eviction last week are there due to crippling mental health issues, addiction or disabilities, Hollingsworth said.

“There are stories in there (Tent City) that would just break your heart,” Hollingsworth said at Monday night’s Waynesboro City Council meeting. “I understand why some of these women and men end up in that situation.

“And it could happen to every one of us.”

Success stories

His ministry helps individuals who are homeless – but doesn’t stop there.

In a phone interview with AFP on Thursday, Hollingsworth, on a lunch break from his day job building houses, said that the ministry continues outreach even after homeless individuals get housing – helping with little things many of us take for granted like a clothes basket, bleach, toilet paper or a pillow.

He said he’s watched approximately 25 individuals since his ministry launched in 2019 go on to be productive members of the community – with a job, a family, and in some cases, their own house.

One powerful moment – when someone who the ministry helped – donated $20 to the nonprofit organization after they were back on their feet.

Former residents of Tent City are scared

Last week, when the homeless people on Essex Avenue in Tent City were forced to find new places to live, Hollingsworth said they helped them with relocation and getting supplies needed for their move. Some were able to get apartments. Others have moved their belongings to back yards, private land or other encampments in the River City.

“They’re scared that it’s going to happen again,” Hollingsworth said.

reprieve ministries

‘City needs to allow this to happen’

A solution, Hollingsworth said, would be to have a building for homeless individuals that wasn’t just for a few months, or certain hours, but gave unsheltered people a safe place to reside until they could get housing or get the rehab or treatment needed to get their life back on track.

In Staunton, Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, solutions to the homeless crisis didn’t happen overnight. In some cases, it took years and took significant funding to fulfill the need in their cities.

“I believe God’s going to make a way where there seems to be no way,” Hollingsworth said. “A lot of these broken people do not feel love, and without love, what do you have to live for?

“I believe that what we’re seeing is the beginning of something new.

Hollingsworth wants to work with churches and other partners to help the homeless get IDs, GEDs, learn a trade and most importantly, find them 24/7 temporary housing.

“I’m a Christian. I believe that Christian men and women of Waynesboro have to step forward,” he said.

“It wasn’t good what happened down there to people,” he said, though he does not blame the city or land owner for the evictions. “However, it can be used to get us moving in the right direction.

“I have been down there and prayed with each and every one of them.

“It’s time to look in the mirror for every one of us and say ‘What can I do to combat the homelessness in our city?

“There’s a group of people that are trying to get together to do something,” Hollingsworth said. “The city needs to allow this to happen.”

For more information on Reprieve, Inc., visit reprievewaynesboro.com

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.