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By God’s Grace

By God’s Grace Mission Center in Dillwyn, recently founded by husband-and-wife duo Anna and Michael Williams, has stepped up to provide important resources and services to the community during the ongoing pandemic.

Although originally from Buckingham, Anna said she left the county for close to 20 years. Anna’s father died when she was very young, leaving her mother to raise eight children. Being just one of eight kids in a single parent household meant there were many things Anna and her family went without.

Anna’s own struggles and her awareness of the prevalence of low-income families in the county inspired her to create an organization focused on helping others. With Michael’s background in computers and Anna’s background of science, the two decided to form a mission center in Buckingham.

Anna looked to a higher power to find the perfect name for her dream.

“I figured if it would ever come to fruition it would be by the grace of God.”

According to Anna, plans to establish the mission center were formulated in early 2019, but the couple had difficulty locating a place to work out of and use as the center’s headquarters. By God’s Grace began serving the community in “pop-up” locations throughout the county, starting with events like turkey distributions for Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t until Feb. of this year the center finally found a home in the form of the Crystal Cathedral Church in Dillwyn.

With a permanent location, Anna said in February By God’s Grace developed plans to provide a variety of programs and services to Buckingham residents, including Bible studies, cooking and nutrition classes, finance classes, walking groups, computer classes, food and clothing distribution and more.

Although dates were set for many activities to begin, the rise of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing regulations put many of the classes Anna and Michael hoped to offer on pause.

However, the operation never came to a standstill. Instead, By God’s Grace looked for opportunities to continue helping out where possible, beginning with food distributions.

The mission center, according to Anna, has been working to help bring healthy, nutritious meals to the community, and the center’s Facebook page is regularly posting recipes to help residents make delicious, easy meals at home.

With the news that positive coronavirus cases were increasing in Buckingham, Anna and Michael set out to distribute masks and hand sanitizer to the community in the form of “Mask Up Buckingham,” where volunteers gathered May 16 to distribute masks, hand sanitizer and food bags.

Although it was difficult to obtain the masks at first, Anna said residents and organizations came together to donate hundreds of masks to the mission center, many of which were distributed at the event.

Anna said she and Michael already have plans for more distributions in the near future.

Despite setbacks, By God’s Grace Mission Center has already been able to serve 500 people since January. Anna said the organization is hoping to expand its network of volunteers. She encouraged those interested in volunteering or donating to the center to reach out via phone call, text message, Facebook or the center’s website.

By God’s Grace may be just starting out, but Anna said her goal ultimately is to reach the community’s vulnerable populations and those in need to help inspire a healthy lifestyle and give people the resources needed to achieve it.

“Even if we reach one person we will have done something. I just hope that we can reach a lot of people.”

Those interested in volunteering or learning more about By God’s Grace Mission Center can contact Anna at (434) 260-9786, search for the center on Facebook or log onto www.bygodsgrace2019.org. The center also has a Givelify page where donations can be made.