Yes, there is a pandemic.
Yes, the skies opened up Saturday afternoon and doused volunteers in Norfolk who were waving and hoping drivers would stop and donate money.
No, Regina Darden and more than 200 volunteers were not deterred as her H.O.P.E. Foundation held its second annual World Homeless Day telethon from the Murray Center in Norfolk.
“Homelessness is just a situation, it’s not who you are,” Darden said to cameras inside the center which were streaming the fundraiser on Facebook. “So many of us are one paycheck from being homeless. This could be any one of us….Give us a chance to give someone else a chance.”
Darden started H.O.P.E. Foundation — Helping Others Pursue Excellence — from her Virginia Beach home four years ago after she said God put it in her heart to feed and house the homeless.
Darden has been handling the bulk of the feeding part on her own. Last year, she ran an overnight shelter out of Lighthouse Community Church in Ocean View. Three times a week, she cooked dinner for the homeless, whom she calls “guests.” In between the cooking and staying overnight at the shelter a couple of nights a week, she put in more than 40 hours as a longshoreman. She also enlisted helpers to manage the shelter and work with the guests with other needs such as applying for jobs, counseling and registering to vote.
Getting the housing will take more work and that’s how Darden developed telethon. She envisions buying or, God help her, she says, a church or business donates a building that will be a fulltime home for her guests. Her people need lockers to store their belongings. They need a computer room to check email and job applications. They want to play board games and watch TV