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For Manna Church, community is key


In the past, 62-year-old Walter Green made his bed under the Person Street bridge and by a dumpster next to a Bragg Boulevard pizzeria.

A native of Rome, New York, Green is a former resident of the now-defunct HOPE Center on Person Street, which has since been transformed into the Manna Dream Center men’s shelter.

“I think God wanted to teach me how the other half lives,” Green said.

The church and the city of Fayetteville have a partnership in the operation of the center as an overnight shelter for men who need food, laundry, hair and shower services. The center has 10 bunk beds that sleep an overall 20 guests.

It is the second center now operated by Manna Church. The other is on Ray Avenue.
The Person Street shelter is the latest example of Manna’s various outreach programs and initiatives in the community.

“Pretty much you name it, we’ve probably helped with it,” said Lauren Fletcher, the 35-year-old executive assistant to the lead and senior pastors at Manna Church on Cliffdale Road.
The church staff who run the Dream Center on Person feed the homeless and destitute Monday through Friday from noon to 1 p.m. Other services are available to men and women during specified hours.

“Whoever comes,” Fletcher said, “there are no stipulations.”

“We are kind of an example,” she said. “If we’re not willing to do it, who will? We go find them and see what their needs are. I think a lot of people shy away from that.”

Manna Church operates a food bank and clothes closet from the new men’s shelter.

The church routinely sends response teams throughout the community and across the country to help those whose lives and homes have been shattered by such natural disasters as a hurricane or a tornado.

After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana in 2017, a Manna Church Outreach Team helped clear the clutter and bring hope to families in the affected areas. A year later, Manna worked with food banks across the storm-affected regions in North and South Carolina in a coordinated effort to help alleviate the impacts from Florence.

In March 2020, Manna Church leaders delivered more than 7,000 N95 masks to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Church staff was rummaging through its disaster relief storage units and discovered the leftover masks that were used for relief efforts during Hurricane Florence.

More recently, the church helped schools with their lunches during the spread of the coronavirus. Parents were able to drop by and pick up dinner and breakfast for their children when the students were learning remotely from home. There have been food giveaways and turkey giveaways through the years.

On Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., COVID-19 testing is available to the public from the church’s Cliffdale site.

“People are the point,” Fletcher said. “God put us on this earth to be a community and help people. To love them with the love of Jesus, no strings attached. That is our goal every day.
“We are the instruments and hands and feet to do that,” she said.

Manna Dream Center

As of early March, Green was one of 19 men living temporarily at the shelter. They vary in age from their 20s to almost 70 and are eligible to stay for 90 to 180 days.
Cassy Funkhouser, the shelter’s 27-year-old administrator, said center staff is seeing 40 to 90 people a day seeking food and various forms of assistance.

“There’s been a lot more interest,” she said.

Posted on a whiteboard inside the facility is a Bible verse from Acts 20:35:
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Terri Little, who is 50 and from New York, is among the few women who have visited the center during the day to use its services. For the past year and a half, her temporary home has been under a Fayetteville bridge.

Little said she comes to the shelter to clean her clothes and eat. Funkhouser has been helping her obtain such personal documents as an identification card, birth certificate and Social Security card.

“Our thing is most organizations get a handout,” Funkhouser said. “We give a hand up for people who need help off the street. Ones who want to make a change, we help with jobs and housing. It’s not about giving a guy a sandwich or a shower; it’s help to make them feel confident again.”

Manna Church, Manna Dream Center