Jan 12, 2017
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Fifty years ago, clergy from congregations of various faiths and cultural backgrounds in Richmond, San Pablo and El Cerrito banded together at a time of societal unrest and united on issues of race, economic disparity and social justice.

Their united goal: to help disadvantaged community members. In 1966, the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, or GRIP, was formed. The organization has become a highly-regarded charity that each year serves 130,000 warm meals in the West County community from its soup kitchen, operates a family shelter that last year housed about 250 people and also a basic needs resource center for the homeless.

On Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., GRIP is set to hold a 50th anniversary celebration at Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza. Community and faith leaders and elected officials have been invited to attend the event, called “Transforming Lives, Building Communities.”

GRIP has certainly come a long way. It recently held its 30th GRIP Harmony Walk/5K Run, an event that on its own evolved from a relatively small unity walk to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness into a significant annual footrace with multiple corporate sponsors and professional timers.

GRIP, which enjoys a fleet of faithful volunteers and support from local governments and businesses, also connects disadvantaged clients to a number of education, employment, healthcare and substance abuse resources.

Sunday’s celebration will include a fellowship dinner, certificates for the recognition of the work dedication and hours of volunteer service.  It will be combined with the GRIP annual board meeting, which includes the election and installation of officers as well as reports from the organization’s treasurer and executive director.

GRIP is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors. Joseph Orr, a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in El Cerrito, serves as the board’s president.

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