Since the death of Good News at Noon founder Gene Beckstein in May 2016, the three-decades-old homeless mission in Gainesville has moved through a productive transition phase, including the renovation of its men’s shelter last year.
Now, Ken Gossage, 62, a Hall County resident who worked professionally as a manufacturing plant manager and high school educator, has assumed the interim director’s role.
Beckstein, affectionately known as “Mr. B,” founded the food and homeless shelter in 1987.
The site at 979 Davis St. adjacent to the Melrose public housing complex provides meals for dozens of men, women and children daily, and has beds for about 20 homeless men.
A longtime volunteer at the mission, Gossage has served on the board of directors for the last couple years.
“I volunteered off and on through the years when Mr. B was here,” Gossage said, adding that the people and values of the mission kept him returning.
In recent years, Gossage said he found himself out of work but not yet ready to retire.
“I think God just kind of put me in this position to consider some possibilities I never would have considered otherwise,” he added.
As Beckstein grew ill, Alejandro and Beth Oropeza took the helm as co-directors and undertook several initiatives to renovate portions of the shelter, acquire additional storage space, revamp a children’s play area and bring new donations and volunteers to serve.
“Alejandro and Beth did a great job of stabilizing the ministry and giving it structure and order,” Gossage said.
Beth now works for the United Way of Hall County. And Alejandro still serves in a managerial capacity, Gossage said.
Fletcher Law, the lead pastor for Good News at Noon, said he expects Gossage to lead the implementation of new initiatives that excite the mission’s team.
“I don’t think people really know our mission that well,” Gossage said. “We’re trying to enhance the physical and spiritual well-being of our neighbor … by building relationships with the larger family of God.”
Gossage said he took the director’s role with guidance from Jesus’ parables, with one particularly in mind.
“I think the one that just hit me was the one about the Good Samaritan,” Gossage said. “It kind of took off from there.”
“Certainly, education, training and experience can give you leadership over time,” he added. “This is a perfect place to hone that. We’re all about relationship building. And, so, I hope to improve in that area here at Good News.”
Gossage said volunteers, such as church ministries, and donors are critical to Good News’ mission and something that he and his team will be driven to expand.
So, too, is more advocacy and outreach to bring “people out of homelessness and into independence,” he said.
But Gossage, who has a wife, Dede, two grown children and four grandchildren, also emphasizes that reciprocity exists for all.
“We all have needs,” he said. “You may think you’re coming as a neighbor to give, or you may be coming as a neighbor to receive, but God’s going to meet both needs.”
“But the biggest thing I’ve learned over time,” Gossage added, “is that leadership comes through service.”