NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Inside the Salvation Army’s Hope Center in Norfolk, workers and volunteers performed deeds this Thanksgiving to live up to the center’s name.
“Today is a special day for people who don’t have a family, people who don’t have a place to go, to get out of the weather,and to spend time with us as much as we enjoy spending time with them today,” said Arthur “AC” Corpus, who works at the shelter.
The Salvation Army provided free meals to those who needed it this Thanksgiving holiday.
Those working and receiving say the meals mean much more to them than just a plate of food — it is a reminder of all they’ve gone through and what their future holds.
“These streets will take a toll on you,” said Caleb Lowrance, who came for a meal with his significant other, Mason Dutton.
Dutton says he almost died several times while living out in the streets due to drugs and weather conditions.
This is why they’re thankful for all the help they’ve received.
“It’s so amazing to be around people who actually care,” he said.
One of those people who cares is Corpus — who first came to the shelter years ago for a place of refuge.
“The shelter means everything to me. I’ve lived in this building. I’ve known the people here many years. I’ve shared good times, and I’ve shared bad times,” he said.
Now Corpus is providing meals and supporting those who now sit where he once did.
“I didn’t know my purpose. Eventually, I found out what my purpose was and that was to be a part of God’s will, and this is God’s will,” he said.
Pauline Ehmann has worked with Corpus at the shelter for 10 years.
She says the Thanksgiving dinner highlights everything they’ve worked for.
“It reminds me to be grateful and thankful for what we do have in this world and it reminds me especially when the community comes out,” she said.
Ehmann has worked for the Salvation Army for 12 years, after starting out as a volunteer.
She says the need at the shelter hasn’t changed, but the support has.
“We have many volunteers. Many people come together. It’s a wonderful thing — a day to give thanks,” she said.
Thursday’s dinner was provided by the Salvation Army’s Kroch Center, but the shelter on 19th Street feeds at least twice a day.
Ehmann says that’s why it’s important for them to get donations, including hygiene items, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“We see more come in during the season of giving,” Ehmann says about donations.” However, we shelter 365 nights a year and there’s always a need here at the shelter.”
A shelter that will still be standing and in need of help once Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas has come and gone.
It’s the same shelter Corpus says he’s grateful it will continue to be there for the homeless community.
“I believe our shelter is a shelter of hope as it’s helped me. It’s helped them and there’s hope for everybody,” he said.