A local group is building a new place to turn for help.

House of Grace Ministries is currently in the process of acquiring two properties at the corner of Penn Street and Wick Street that will become the House of Grace at Corinth – a place for people who need temporary housing and may be recovering from addiction or in transition to normal life after time behind bars.

It is something Renae Wooden, executive director, has wanted to do for many years. The idea began to form when she worked for a homeless shelter in Ohio.

“Up until then, I thought I wanted to be in the medical field,” she said, “but, then I realized I really wanted to be in the social work field, because I just enjoy helping people to do better and make better decisions.”

At the shelter in Ohio, she saw ways it could work better.

“I felt like it needed a more humanistic touch,” said Wooden. “It was very sterile, and I saw people coming, but they weren’t leaving any better than when they came.”

After returning home to Corinth, she was surprised to see that there are homeless people in the city, and she felt it was time to put her idea into action.

“We see them coming out of the abandoned houses,” she said. “They will have somewhere they can come and sleep and get a hot meal.”

Fund-raising will be one of the main income sources for the organization, which is applying for nonprofit status. Its first banquet is set for this weekend at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Refreshments on Linden Street. It is planned to be an annual event.

The keynote speaker for the occasion is Karl A. Wansley, a motivational speaker who writes and counsels with juveniles and adults on the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. He will talk about the challenges of his re-entry into society after incarceration.

The evening will also include entertainment by the Harris Family and Minister Bobby Jackson, as well as door prizes and a silent auction.

While many guests at House of Grace will be short-term, Wooden plans to offer a 90-day program aimed at those who may need help finding employment and housing. It will deal with topics like budgeting, getting a bank account and driver’s license, and other counseling aimed at helping people return to normal life.

One of the two houses will be designated for men and the other for women. Wooden hopes to see it up and running by May or June. The houses need some work before operations can begin.

Alderman J.C. Hill, a senior advisor on the executive board, said it is one of the most exciting projects he has joined. He expects House of Grace will eventually get many referrals from the police department.

Other members of the executive board are Adgery Carter, chairman; Lisa Kirk, administrative secretary; Ivary Brooks, financial secretary/treasurer; Beverly Harris, assistant treasurer; Clarence Clark, community liaison; Shari Loving, remote resource officer; Rochelle Jenkins, policies and procedures officer; and Shanado Gardner, attorney.

Banquet tickets are available at the door or contact Wooden at (567) 315-3538, Hill at (662) 293-0290 or Ivary Hubbard at (662) 603-1170.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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