Still mining for gold

Grass Valley Corps—committed helping those in need and growing God’s kingdom.

Preventing homelessness and serving the needs of those at imminent risk of losing housing—or already homeless—is a top priority at The Salvation Army Grass Valley (Calif.) Corps, led by corps officers Captains Donald and Martha Sheppard.

The corps recently received a grant for $1.6 million—as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—to operate its Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) for Nevada County, which offers housing opportunities for families and individuals. Also in operation is the Booth Family Center that houses nine families at a time in a refurbished hotel.

The success of these two facilities inspired the congregation to expand its outreach. This year, it opened a drop-in center for homeless families.

“It gives families with small children a place to go during the day. They can make lunch, look for jobs on our computers or just give their toddlers a nap,” Captain Martha Sheppard said.

More than a century ago, emigrants from England poured into Grass Valley to join the booming mining industry. This influx caused a population explosion, adding people to the corps. Today, this same spirit of mining impels each one to keep looking for those “hidden treasures,” knowing that no rock can be left unturned.

Corps members participate in a concert of prayer each morning at the Grass Valley Corps. (Photo by Kim Winters)

Every day at 9:09 a.m., the staff and corps members gather for a Concert of Prayer for those asking for help.

“Every person who comes into our doors is regarded as a potential family member,” Robbin Swales, College for Officer Training applicant, said. “We offer them a home to belong to.”

Many visitors stay to become part of the family and join Forward Edge, a discipleship program that encompasses people at all spiritual levels. As a result, church attendance and spiritual growth have increased, allowing increased possibilities for leadership development.

Corps growth
“God finds treasure in each person and our job is to help them to discover it,” Sheppard said.

Attendance at Sunday worship has been steadily growing, with a current average of 50 people. “Most of the growth has come because of our Christmas bell ringing ministry,” Sheppard said. “We really take care of the bell ringers. They show up at the corps for breakfast and a pep talk—they hear the gospel message each morning, and van drivers who are part of the corps team take them to their spots with sack lunches. The congregation prays for them. Every January, we end up retaining bell ringers as part of the corps family.”

The corps also has a good linking program from the HPRP to the congregation.

As further evidence of God’s work in Grass Valley, five new families are coming to family Sunday school, a creative way of promoting family discipleship—even for those kids and adults who come on their own. The corps also sent 12 young people to the Del Oro divisional young adult retreat, and its Girl Guards—a new troop—placed second in the territory.

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