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'Hope in Front of Me' Honor Cards raise funds to help area's homeless

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Greensboro artist William Mangum's painting, Hope in front of Me, is the cover of this year's Honor Card, holiday greeting cards that raise money for the Community Crossroads Shelter.

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Kim Grizzard

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A painting of a stranger making his way toward a snow-covered bench is being used to bring hope to local homeless people seeking shelter this winter.

Titled “Hope in Front of Me,” the work by artist William Mangum is featured on the Honor Card, a holiday season fundraiser for homeless shelters across the state.

Greenville's homeless shelter, Community Crossroads Center, unveiled this year's card Thursday at St. James United Methodist Church.

“I can't think of a better place to host an Honor Card event than St. James,” said Bob Williams, executive director of Community Crossroads Center. “This is where everything began 28 years ago.”

In 1988, former St. James pastor Sam Loy and Dr. David Ames began working to take care of homeless men in the community, turning the former Agnes Fullilove School into Greenville Community Shelter.

That same year, Mangum, inspired by a homeless man he met in Greensboro, began designing holiday cards to help raise money to fight homelessness. Since then, the Honor Cards has helped to raise more than $6 million for homeless shelters in more than a dozen communities, including Greenville.

Community Crossroads Center sold nearly 3,000 of the cards last year, generating nearly $15,000 for the shelter.

This year's card takes its name from a song by former “American Idol” contestant Danny Gokey, who sings of hope ahead in spite of brokenness and struggle.

“This song has an amazing symbolism of the journey that the homeless and needy encounter each day,” Mangum said in a statement. “... We must remind the homeless that what they're going through isn't the end of the story.”

Community Crossroads Center board member Jim Naves said “Hope in Front of Me” is a theme for the center as well.

“It's one of the reasons we changed the name,” he said. “As we move forward, our vision hasn't even begun to be fulfilled. We want to continue what we're doing and in essence blur the lines between what we typically consider to be the invisible homeless people and the rest of us.”

Williams shared with supporters some reasons for hope among Greenville's homeless. One is a new $2.2 million shelter, which opened in June 2015.

“We built a new facility and now we have a new vision,” he said. “Our new vision is to help people become self-sufficient, to overcome homelessness, to take care and help them with those issues that they have whether that be drug addiction, mental health, health care issues.”

He described a proposal for a resource center at the old, two-story school building beside the new shelter. Preliminary plans call for the center to have room for medical and dental clinics as well as satellite offices for substance abuse treatment and social services.

Community Crossroads Center housed more than 550 individuals last year, serving more than 50,000 meals. The estimated cost of housing an individual at the shelter for one night is $25.

Honor Cards are $5 each when purchased in quantities of 49 or fewer. Orders of at least 50 cards are $4 each, and orders of 100 cards or more are $3 each. Due to Mangum's donation of art, along with sponsorship by Wells Fargo, 100 percent of each donation goes to the shelter.

Community Crossroads Center is located at 207 Manhattan Ave. For more information about Honor Cards, visit communitycrossroadscenter.org, call 752-0829 or email admin@greenvillecommunityshelter.org.

Contact Kim Grizzard at kgrizzard@reflector.com and 329-9578.

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