Submitted by Rev. Hollie Woodruff, Seventh Street Christian Church
On Sunday, May 12, Seventh Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Richmond, VA will donate over $200,000 to area agencies that support housing, care and services for the elderly. The donation will be split equally among the following organizations: Better Housing Coalition, Rebuilding Together Richmond, Saint Francis Home, Senior Connections and SOAR365 (formerly Greater Richmond ARC). A formal presentation of the gifts will happen immediately following the 11:00 AM worship. All are welcome to attend.
Affordable housing is a known concern for Richmond, particularly among older adults. “There are so many people living on the edge. To have the ability to support the work of organizations that help alleviate this concern is empowering,” reflects Rev. Hollie Woodruff, pastor at Seventh Street Christian Church. In a 2015 report, the Partnership for Housing Affordability found that roughly 35-percent of households in the Richmond region are cost-burdened, paying more than 30-percent of their income for housing. “The average income of our 900 senior residents is around $14,000 annually,” says Joyce Jackson, with the Better Housing Coalition, which helps revitalize and develop affordable housing in Richmond. “This significant investment will allow us to build greater health and financial stability among our elderly, allowing them to age in place and contribute to their communities.”
Seniors cost burdened with housing must also make difficult decisions about their well-being. Malcolm Jones, acting Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Richmond, which helps repair homes and community spaces shares, “Many seniors that we serve have to choose between essential needs like housing, food, and healthcare. This contribution will help us repair their homes and provide the necessary health and safety modifications to increase their chances of aging in place.”
The donation was made possible because of the legacy of Letitia Cauthorn. A member of Seventh Street Christian Church, she passed away on May 9, 1929, leaving a little over $4,000 to the church for the “creation of an old ladies’ retirement home.” The sum, which was too small to be used for its stated purpose, was wisely managed by Church Trustees and grew a hundredfold to $400,000 over the last 90 years. Still inadequate for its stated purpose, a special church committee was created to explore if the restrictions on the gift could be adjusted so it could be used in the spirit it was intended. “It was an honor to be asked to be on the committee that helped make these donations possible. God has blessed us with trustees who have watched over the initial gift that has grown over time. I believe God will bless the release of these funds to help His kingdom be realized,” proclaims Barbara Dickinson, who chaired the special committee.
Seventh Street members have been researching and meeting with viable organizations that help improve the lives of seniors. “The opportunity to help bring to fruition a legacy almost 90 years old is gratifying and humbling. These organizations are remarkable and the chance to shine a spotlight on their work is a blessing and a tribute to Letitia Cauthorn,” beams Steve Cheney, a key leader in researching these organizations.