Hotel Grace is the city’s overflow shelter for the homeless during the coldest days of Winter. There are three churches that sponsor and support Hotel Grace: St. John’s Catholic Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester and Net of Compassion, a Pentecostal church. Together they provide beds, and some meals, for 50 people each night (not always the same 50 people). Over 250 different individuals have taken advantage of Hotel Grace’s presence during this Winter.
This month, Net of Compassion became TFT’s 22nd partner charity. I first encountered this organization one Saturday in 2014. Walking up South Main Street from Clark University toward City Hall, I began to hear music that became louder as I approached Chandler Street. What I saw as I approached seemed like a block party. I soon realized it was Net of Compassion doing what it does every Saturday on the sidewalk next to the Compare Supermarket, giving out free meals, clothing, shelter and recovery support to as many as 300 needy individuals each week.
The Net of Compassion is the brain-child of an ex-drug addict and felon named Ritchie Gonzales. Ritchie Gonzales grew up in the Worcester South Main Street neighborhood. During and after his prison time Gonzales worked to turn his life around, a full 180-degree turnabout! After his release from prison he, and his wife, Elizabeth, became ordained Christian ministers. Together they decided to establish a faith-based nonprofit organization directed toward helping the truly needy of Worcester. They named this organization The Net of Compassion, and began its activity in 2010. They continue the work of this charity each Saturday and each week of the year. TFT is glad to be able to add the Net of Compassion as one of its Partner Charities.