CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - "The Grace Center" in Cape Girardeau County is in its infancy, but has already helped hundreds.
The homeless outreach and crisis center in Gordonville opened about 15 months ago. In 2010, more than 270 people were given food, shelter and clothing. According to the center's founders, Pastor LaDon Hamilton and his wife Jennifer Hamilton, over 40 of those people found homes and jobs through the ministry.
Jennifer Hamilton grew up in Cape Girardeau, while Pastor LaDon is from Mobile, Alabama.
The couple met after struggling with some tough times of their own.
"We were both drug addicts, both living on the streets", said Jennifer Hamilton.
The couple started to rebuild their lives together.
They started a church, The Amazing Grace Worship Center, off Highway 25.
"We just really feel like the Lord brought us together to help others as someone helped us," said Jennifer Hamilton.
They had no plans to help the homeless, saying it just happened.
"We found homeless people sleeping behind buildings," said Ladon Hamilton. "We reached out and opened our fellowship hall."
Right now their focus is on homeless men. They have room for 20. Today, they have four including Larry Woods.
"I got sick, wasn't able to work any more," said Woods. "Lost my home, lost my family."
A local hospital referred Woods to The Grace Center.
"It's a good thing because honestly, I'd probably be in a grave," said Woods. "I was suicidal."
It's his third month at The Grace Center. He says he's coming out of his deep depression. He's even in charge at the shelter, coordinating everything. He makes meals, drives the men to work, and works at the center's thrift store in Cape Girardeau.
The store, at 402 S. Sprigg, just opened and proceeds help fund needs at The Grace Center.
They also work with the local food bank, and other charities to provide food for those in need outside the shelter.
The Hamilton's want people to realize homelessness is a problem in Cape Girardeau County.
"We not only want to teach the word of God and instill the love of Jesus, but also show them they have to be responsible," said Jennifer Hamilton.
It's all about getting them back on their feet, while showing them someone cares.
"Everyone here doesn't call it a homeless shelter, we call it home," said Larry Woods.
The Hamilton's say they have had to turn away three families in the past two weeks simply because they are not set up to house women and children.
That is their latest goal, to get a new facility.
For more information about the Center visit the shelter's website, www.amazinggrace.vpweb.com
Workers at The Amazing Grace Worship Center/The Grace Center will start hosting spaghetti dinner fundraiser's every Tuesday night from 5:00-7:00p.m.
The dinners are $2 a plate for dine in or take out.