At the same time that Charlottesville’s homeless population is growing, so are the efforts to help them. After conflicts with city government and lack of funds have forced the Hope Community Center to close a homeless shelter, another attempt to help the homeless took place Saturday, May 17, when people congregated in Kegler’s for the Charity Bowl-a-Thon to Help Homeless.
As organizer Angela Burruss-Terrell explains, one weekend she was in Washington, D.C., where homelessness is rampant. Seeing all the destitute and needy spurred her to come up with a way to care for those in our area.
Angela Burruss-Terrell organized the bowl-a-thon. “I think we all need to get together,” she says. “I really do.”
“I wanted to do something for the homeless,” she says. So she thought of a bowl-a-thon to raise money and approached her pastor, Dr. Lehman D. Bates II of Ebenezer Baptist Church, for his support. He in turn approached Mayor Dave Norris, who proudly lent his endorsement and support.
“This event will raise funds and awareness for an important cause,” he wrote in a March 23 letter, “engaging people of faith in service and ministry to those of our neighbors who have no place to call home.”
With those recommendations, Burruss-Terrell hit the pavement. “I just went to the businesses to see who could give me what,” she says. Breaking the sponsorship into six levels—with $1,000 as the top and $50 the low—any amount therein bought a bowling lane for three hours. “So far I’ve come up with $3,000,” she says. “For the first one, that isn’t bad.”
Make that $3,050. While talking in the parking lot of the J.F. Bell funeral home, she received another donation from the morticians themselves. They don’t even want to bowl, they said, just to help out the homeless, some of whom regularly sit across the street on the steps of Ebenezer church.
That’s how Burruss-Terrell got involved with helping the less fortunate in the first place. Her church started to feed people and take them over to the Salvation Army a few blocks away. Ebenezer joined with another church on Rugby Road to take part in PACEM’s evening shelter program this winter. Now there’s the bowl-a-thon.
“This is going to be an annual event,” Burruss-Terrell says. “All the proceeds we’re going to save.” According to the flyer she made, funds will go “to assist with medical and personal care, childcare, bus fare and assistance with hygiene and clothing, and the establishment of a permanent shelter and resource center.”
The last part sounds a lot like the much-ballyhooed First Street project off the Downtown Mall that is still waiting for remodeling and construction to start. According to Burruss-Terrell, they already have an architect lined up for what would be a day shelter and resource center for the poor.
Of course, it would take more than one bowl-a-thon to raise enough money for something like that. So in the meantime, she will have to be content with a few thousand dollars to feed and clothe the homeless who cross her path. There are enough people like her trying to do something, anything, for the have-nots that it’s hard to keep up with.
“I think we all need to get together,” Burruss-Terrell says. “I really do.”
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