Volunteers, support needed

by Joe Courter

The GRACE Marketplace is up and running on NE 39th Avenue, trying its best to address the needs of homeless and disadvantaged citizens of our County.

There has been increasing use of the facility, and a growing number of “outdoor citizens” are trying to get established in the safer surroundings out there. On site there are an outdoor shelter, storage, meals and support services.

The Kickstand Bike Project has moved out there, and targets mid September to begin operations, including training on bike maintenance. Personal skills, mechanical skills and transportation for those in need will all come from their efforts. They can be reached at gainesvillekickstand@gmail.com.

All has not been smooth, as can be expected. There was a relocation of a number of people who had established camping in a wooded area which it turned out was on land owned by the Tachacale facility, and that led to a problem as there is limited wooded area that close, plus it was handled none too tactfully considering the attempts by GRACE Marketplace to be welcoming.

Out of this has grown an ad hoc organization of campers called “Dignity Village,” which is the start hopefully of more self-governance, emerging autonomy and a representative voice in the growth of GRACE Marketplace. They meet evenings at the chapel.

Another problem has been bogus 911 calls by a disturbed resident, thus creating friction with authorities. Call them growing pains.

Volunteers and support are needed to keep making this resource, at long last, come into being. Contact them thru the website www.gracemarketplace.org or calling 352-792-0800.

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