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Local pastor is an advocate for people who are homeless

Pastor James Risper recieves People Taking Action award.jpg
Posted at 5:49 PM, Jan 19, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Being of service to others seems to be Pastor James Risper’s calling. And lately, the need has been great.

Pastor Risper’s wife, Terry, works alongside her husband in their faith-based organization, helping those who need it in Virginia Beach.

“People’s hearts are really open at this time to help the unfortunate because we are all going through something. The pandemic has caused us to look at life a little differently.”

"Just last month, we had a coat drive for the homeless where we collected $1,200 to buy brand-new coats. We had coats donated; we had lunches donated; we had hygiene packs donated.”

Most recently, they organized an effort to get shoes, blankets and clothing to Virginia Beach residents who have nowhere to call home.

“When you talk about homelessness - about caring, empathy, compassion - these are the folks right here. The pastor has made this one of his life’s work," says Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.

Having been homeless himself at one time, the pastor knows how tough that can be.

“Now that I’ve been helped, it's only my business to go back out and get some of these guys and ladies off the street," Pastor Risper said.

We heard he was having a meeting with Mayor Dyer, so with the help of the mayor and his staff, we were able to sneak up on him in council chambers to surprise the pastor with a People Taking Action award along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

“I’m not one to be at a loss for words, but I am right now," he said.

His wife beamed with pride.

Related: People Taking Action: Local businesses help needy family with no heat!

“He’s passionate about whatever he does, and I am so proud of him. He works relentlessly," Terry Risper said.

And Mayor Dyer appreciates the efforts the pastor and his wife put in to help Virginia Beach residents who are less fortunate.

“We’re here as a city to help, and we’re very grateful to you," the mayor said.

To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.