Karen Stanley is the CEO and president of CARITAS. Photo by Ashley Loth.
“CARITAS creates a safe space to heal and time to rebuild.”
CARITAS is the largest homeless and recovery service organization in the metro Richmond, Virginia, area. “We serve more than 3,300 people each year,” says Karen Stanley, the CEO and president of CARITAS. “Today, the organization has a $7 million annual operating budget and employs 50 full-time and 50 part-time staff, with the support of thousands of volunteers and donors.” CARITAS has five programs: The Healing Place, the Emergency Shelter, the Furniture Bank, CARITAS Works, and the CARITAS Recovery Residences. One of CARITAS’ most successful recovery stories is David Gresh. This November, David along with Sam and Da’Quan, two other recovery program participants, will participate in the Richmond Marathon this November. This is the first year CARITAS has participants officially training for the marathon.
David at a recent CARITAS Works commencement. David is currently in the working world and is getting ready to graduate from the Intro to Construction Class presented by the Community College Workforce Alliance. Photo by Megan Wilson.
David’s story is one of struggle and healing. He grew up in North Central Pennsylvania. In his childhood, David dealt with sexual abuse. However, this didn’t stop David from graduating at the top of his class. He was going to go to college and study to be an English teacher. After a mistaken theft charge as a college student, David turned to drugs and crime to deal with the disappointment of not having the opportunity to live up to his potential. Life continued to be an upward battle for David. He joined the military, was charged with grand theft auto, got into unstable romantic relationships one after the other, tried crystal meth and heroin, attempted closure about his childhood abuse, and dealt with suicidal thoughts.
After journeying to the Appalachian Trail in New York and then finding himself underweight and unhealthy in a hospital in Salem, New Jersey, David would eventually find himself at The Healing Place in Richmond. “I had relapsed so many times I didn’t think the program would work,” David says. “I had never had so many people say they cared about me and loved me.” It was this support and sense of community that led David to sign up to train for the Monument Avenue 10K earlier this year. Local runners and walkers of the 10k have been a monumental help in training men and women in the CARITAS recovery program.
This November, David and Da’Quan will participate in the Richmond Marathon. Photo by Megan Wilson.
Along with participating in the Richmond Marathon, David is currently in the working world and is getting ready to graduate from the Intro to Construction Class presented by the Community College Workforce Alliance. “Today I look forward to talking to other men like me who are down and out,” he says. “I didn’t think I would make it to this point, but now I know I can and others can, too.”
To learn more about how you can support CARITAS, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Learn more about CARITAS’ volunteering opportunities here. Donations can be made online or mailed to 2220 Stockton Street, Richmond, VA 23224.