Better together: How the partnership between Covered Ministries and StreetWise is bridging the gap for more people in Gwinnett

They’ve been serving together for years. But when Randy Maneice and Rey Richards – along with their men’s group at church – felt the call to something more, it resulted in Covered Ministries.

Covered Ministries is a faith-based Gwinnett nonprofit, providing help in two specific ways: food assistance to single parent households and mentorship for teens. Though they didn’t officially form until January of 2022, their origin goes all the way back to 2018.

“It started with our small group at Victory Church. We used to do community outreach by sharing dinner with the firefighters at Fire Station 11 in Norcross,” said Randy. “From that we evolved and we established volunteer relationships with Mending the Gap and Fully Furnished in 2020.”

“Then in late 2021, Fully Furnished invited us to meet with StreetWise,” Rey said.

The rest is history.

“StreetWise truly believes in working with other nonprofits, churches and corporate groups so they can multiply their impact on the community,” said Rey. “And StreetWise is one of the organizations that has really taught us the importance of collaboration.”

“Now, we’re there every second Saturday of the month [for the Mobile Food Pantry] and volunteer at StreetWise every month,” Randy said. “Rain, sleet or snow, we are out there!”

On the last Saturday or Sunday of every month, Covered holds their own event they call a Youth Heart Scan, a meeting to provide a safe space for teens and parents to discuss current issues such as school safety, cyber bullying and more. And in July, Covered will also hold a free tennis clinic and a college tour to Montgomery, Alabama. 

But why? 

“Volunteering is a part of our DNA,” Rey said. “It’s important to us, because we really believe that all resources belong to God, and we feel like we share responsibility to move resources from somewhere where there’s an excess to an area where there’s a shortage.” 

“Both Rey and I are usher team leaders at our church and have been for a long time, and Ray also leads our small group,” said Randy. “But we’re out in the community because there’s a definite need for male role models. 

“We’ve got some people who really rearranged their schedules to make it to the monthly Mobile Food Pantry. One of our men who’s retired came out one time on a Saturday, and now he comes during the week to help as a translator. One of our board members, Irving Blackman, volunteers on the second Friday of every month to help StreetWise prepare for their monthly Mobile Food Pantry,” Rey said. “We’ve also been able to get other people in our circles to come in during the week to volunteer at StreetWise. 

“We’re not just a strong back to put food in cars; we’re out trying to change the community.”

Collaboration requires trust. And a big reason their partnership with StreetWise works is Covered Ministries’ passion for the same things StreetWise cares about.

“Streetwise is a Christian-based organization, too, and we feel that every time we’re out there,” Randy said. “We love that that they exude generosity and genuine love.

“And StreetWise is going to be a very important part of the work we’re doing this summer, because along with our regular Saturdays there, we’re going to have some time during the week where we’ll be bringing along our mentor kids to help.”

“We’re providing examples on what it is to serve, showing that there’s a need and how we can help meet that need,” Rey said.

Something Covered Ministries has discovered is that you never know what kind of unexpected good you might be able to do when you step out and give your time. 

“One of the cool things about serving with another organization is networking with the other volunteers,” Rey said. “Earlier this year, we met some college students who were looking for summer internships. And through Covered Ministries’ partnership with Gwinnett County, we were able to act as a bridge to connect a student with an internship opportunity. You never know how the dots might connect!”

“Then, just a few weeks ago, one of our partners had two pallets of disinfecting wipes and two pallets of masks they couldn’t use. We reached out to Streetwise, who said they could use them, and another one of our partners offered up their truck to one of our board members to pick up and deliver them to StreetWise at 7:30 a.m.,” Randy said.

“Then, StreetWise turned around and was able to provide 50 boxes of produce to the families of kids who attended a basketball camp at another nonprofit startup we partner with, L.O.Y.A.L. Not to mention, StreetWise helped us support another organization last summer, Families First. They helped them set up their own Mobile Food Pantry and on two occasions donated at least a ton of meat, bread, dry goods and produce.”

The best part? It really is about doing good, not building up the name of any one organization. Without partners like Covered Ministries, StreetWise could never hope to serve the thousands it reaches every year. 

And that’s why StreetWise will continue forward with all the help it can get, from Covered and other amazing partner organizations and volunteers.

“We are 100% on board with StreetWise’s mission, because it mirrors what we’re doing in the community,” Rey said. “What they’re doing is with just a few full-time staff – it’s wonderful.”