James Roberson has been volunteering with construction and disaster relief ministries for the past 12 years. So when he and his family moved back to his hometown of Fredericksburg in 2014, it was no surprise that he wanted to jump back in. But when he started researching local volunteer organizations, he had a difficult time finding one that fit the bill.
“I ran into organizations that had a limited service window, doing projects only a few months out of the year. Or they had so many stipulations it’s hard to get involved,” Roberson said.
Then one Sunday in 2015, a woman in Roberson’s Sunday school class mentioned that she wanted to do a service project as a class. Since Roberson had experience with volunteer work, he spear headed the project.
Their first work day was scheduled in November of 2015 where 30 volunteers worked on 10 houses doing winterization projects, repairing drywall, cleaning up yards, patching leaky roofs, fixing leaking bathroom fixtures and painting. The day was so successful, Roberson started praying about permanently establishing a year-round volunteer construction ministry based in Fredericksburg.
“All the pieces just seemed to fall into place. I talked with my wife and said that if this is not when God wants me to do this then I don’t know when is,” Roberson said. “I have been involved in Christian-based ministries before, so I wanted to continue doing that. I wanted to bring the church to the community.”
After some research, planning, and help from a few local businessmen, Roberson founded the non-profit construction ministry 516 Project, Inc. in February of 2016. The organization, which derives its name from the Bible verse Matthew 5:16, assists local homeowners with home repairs that they either are not able to afford themselves or are not physically able to accomplish. The projects are funded by 516 Project, Inc. through fundraisers, raffles, fund drives as well as donations to the organization from churches, individuals and businesses.
Since its establishment, 516 Project, Inc. now has over 85 registered volunteers and has worked on over 20 houses in the Fredericksburg area.
“Everything that has happened at this point has all been God’s work. I can see that this is something God wants us to do and keep doing,” Roberson said.
When asked where he sees the organization going in the future, Roberson replied, “Wherever God takes us. I’m just along for the ride.”