While his focus remains on a couple of projects spearheaded through the Williamson County Homeless Alliance, Franklin Community Church Pastor Kevin Riggs is currently involved in making sure people who are homeless are seeing their needs met during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a nutshell, that translates to active fundraising.
Riggs, a key figure in the founding of the Homeless Alliance and its goals to find a permanent homeless shelter in the county and to continue with the emergency shelter program, sent board members and others in the community a newsletter explaining the needs for funds for helping Franklin’s homeless population to secure shelter, food and other needs.
He emailed the letter Saturday morning, and within two or three days recipients answered with a total of around $13,000.
“Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for each and every one of you,” Riggs said in a follow-up email Monday morning.
Working with the Williamson County Emergency Management and the Rev. Vona Wilson from Franklin First United Methodist Church, Riggs has been able to secure a local hotel to house some of the homeless population. As of Tuesday, 15 people are staying in 10 rooms and receiving at least one hot meal a day.
Currently providing those meals are the Franklin Chop House, the Daily Dish and Pueblo Real, the same restaurants that donated meals last summer when the emergency shelter program got underway.
The difference is, while these three restaurants and others donated food at no charge last summer, the Homeless Alliance is now repaying them for their generosity.
“What’s really cool is,” Riggs explained, “there were restaurants and caterers who donated hundreds of meals last summer when we started. So now we’re trying to go back to those restaurants and pay full price and tip generously. We want to help them during their time of need [during the coronavirus crisis].”
Riggs said the Homeless Alliance will eventually be reimbursed 75% of the funding that goes toward the hotel cost, but food is not included.
“So the longer this goes on, the more money we’ll need to raise,” he said.
If the local shelter-in-place mandate is extended to the April 30 date established by President Donald Trump, Riggs estimates between $25,000 and $30,000 will be needed.
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Pastor Riggs can be reached at 615-440-7553 or email@example.com.