“For I was hungry, and you fed me … I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25: 35, 40

Spring Branch is proud to join arms with the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, a compassionate organization, whose objective is to feed homeless residents, as well as those in need of a good wholesome meal every day. That totals more than 70,000 free meals a year!

dininghall3 The mission was simple: to feed the hungry. To establish a dinner program near the beach. “To be here” said Frank Bragg, one of the program’s pioneers. “Where the people are.” More than half a million meals later, the spirit that founded the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center is still alive thanks to more than 150 congregations and volunteer organizations who show up to prepare and serve meals. Thousands of helping hands working side by side to support the mission of JCOC. It’s an extraordinary effort that requires tremendous coordination and ongoing support. And the JCOC continues to grow: serving not only meals, but other vital services as well: a food pantry, housing, counseling, advocacy, education and employment assistance. We provide the opportunity for a second chance. Our story continues.

Todd Walker, the JCOC’s executive director, said it best. “We truly believe that when you help someone, they are most likely going to be willing to help somebody else. So indirectly, we are helping even more people.” This belief is embodied in the Center’s Mission: To empower homeless families and individuals to recover from crisis situations and return to being self-supporting, productive, and independent members of our community. “Everybody has a gift and a purpose,” says Peggy Homesly, JCOC’s development director. “But for whatever reason, they fall through the cracks. Our mission is to get them from Point A to Point B.”

dininghall1While the breadth of our services is quite wide, our “30-second elevator pitch” is simple and concise. The scope of our efforts can be summarized in five words: Prevention, Crisis Management and Empowerment. We use these terms, because they are the ultimate goals of our services and programs. Everything we do is designed to help these individuals and families get through a difficult time, to see a brighter future. No one should have to face a crisis alone. So we make it abundantly clear that we are there as a support system; in the beginning, throughout the journey and even after folks step outside our doors. We are there whenever you need us.

We say this not as a boast, but as an assurance to anyone who is not completely familiar with our operation. We know how to do it. We give people the tools to move their lives forward and ensure that homelessness is never a recurring problem. And the outpouring of support from the community over the past 25+ years has been a tremendous gift. We have donors who have supported us from the beginning. We receive generous grants from the city of Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads Community Foundation, HUD, Veteran’s Administration, United Way and several other foundations. Volunteers from the community donate their time and resources; provide groceries, toiletries and clothing.

But as hard as we work to stretch those dollars, the need outweighs the resources. Homeless individuals and families often have to wait for months on our waiting list for emergency housing. The need for greater educational services becomes more apparent every day, as the job market changes.

dininghall4Sometimes, a second chance is all people need to get back on their feet. The Judeo-Christian Outreach Center needs your support to provide that opportunity to as many people as possible, because everyone deserves a second chance. Our donor base is extremely generous, but limited. Grants and government support are tenuous and can fluctuate based on economic variables. But one thing is a certainty: you will be helping others change their lives and emerge stronger and ready to re-enter the community. We hope you will become the secret behind our success.