Greenville, N.C., Mission Station far ahead of its time
By: Major Frank Duracher
Seven years ago, Major Floyd Langley, a retired Salvation Army officer living in Greenville, North Carolina, came up with an idea for a Mission Station – an oasis for the town’s homeless population, providing breakfast, a hot shower and two washer/dryer stations for their clothes.
Little did Major Langley know back then that during this coronavirus pandemic, his dream would be a salvation for so many in 2020.
“The original plan conceived was a three-day-a-week feeding program,” said Major Connie Morris, Greenville corps officer. “And we made sure that they were not only fed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but that non-perishable meals were given out for them to have on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekends.”
The program expanded with the purchase of the washers and dryers and installation of shower stalls. These additions to the Mission Station enabled the clients to shower and eat a meal while their clothes were being cleaned.
“This was in place long before the pandemic hit,” Major Morris said, “so in these last three months, this has been a godsend for the people of Pitt County – especially the homeless population.”
The major pointed out that although Pitt is a poor county, it is not the poorest in the Carolinas. But a segment of the population believes there are jobs to be had. The fact is that jobs are not available – particularly during the COVID-19 economic crisis. There’s also a lack of mental health facilities in the area, so many people were already “falling through the crack” even before the crisis.
When people begin arriving at the Mission Station, those wanting to wash their clothes sign up on a waiting list. The requests are so great that the machines are always running, and the Mission Station has been opened daily during the crisis.
“There is no bleach available, anywhere,” Major Morris added. “But we have been able to keep a steady supply of (detergent) pod-packs.”
The pandemic has hit close to home, she said, as one client lost a relative to the coronavirus in New York, while another just lost a relative in South Carolina.
“Everyone’s scared. Our county’s been it extremely hard – but God is good, and he is taking care of us!”