HIGH POINT, N.C. — Raymond Payne has come a long way in his life.
For eleven years, he was homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. “They say once a person is homeless, they’re always homeless. That’s not true,” Payne said. “I know plenty of people who were homeless and they’re doing great things now.”
Payne stayed in the Open Door Ministries Men’s Shelter for six months. During that time, he turned his life around and has been sober ever since. He credits his recovery to his faith and his wife, Patricia.
Payne has moved on, but he hasn’t forgotten what he’s been through and is now using his experience to help others struggling with homelessness.
“What really struck me about Raymond is that he went through a really dark period in his life,” said Paul Lessard of the High Point Community Foundation. “A lot of people, when they go through that, they don’t want to look back. Raymond wanted to look back and he wanted to help people.”
Thanks in part to a $1,000 grant from the High Point Community Foundation, Payne started a homeless outreach 17 years ago called Rabbit Quarter Ministries.
Lessard said it’s the best money ever spent.
“It’s a wonderful story of how someone with a good heart can change the world,” he said.
Payne and other volunteers pass out supplies, including food, socks, and hygiene bags.
“I go to places where people don’t normally go to help people,” Payne said. “Abandoned houses, under the railroad tracks, cars, and I try to help people that other people can’t relate to.”
Steve Key, executive director of Open Door Ministries, said Payne is an asset to the place he once lived.
“I use him a lot to help us contact people in the community and helping us to engage resources to people or find people we need to get in touch with,” Key said.
It’s a lot of work, but for Payne, it doesn’t feel that way.
“If you want happiness, give happiness. Whatever you want in life, give it and you will receive it,” he said.