Thankful for Exodus Homes, Driver’s License at Age 58!

Darlene Sanders showing off her driver’s license after only missing 1 question on the test!!

Darlene Sanders has a lot to be thankful for in life. At the age of 58, she has a job she loves, a comfortable home, a car she owns and more importantly she just got her first driver’s license. Nearly a decade ago, her life was completely different. She admits chasing the next high was the only thing she cared about when she was younger.

“My intentions weren’t focused on anything legal, but today that’s what I stay focused on,” Sanders said. “All the things that I’m going to get joy from. I do things today that I never thought I would ever do.”

Sanders is an Exodus Homes program graduate and currently works as the agency’s Women’s Site Manager. Exodus Homes in Hickory is a Catawba County United Way funded program, providing transitional housing for individuals coming out of treatment centers or incarceration. The agency helps the United Way meet one of its key missions every year, promoting financial stability and independence for individuals. Sanders credits the programs at Exodus Homes for helping her find a path to a healthier, happier life. On Dec. 16, she’ll be eight years clean from drugs. This gift of support and trust from Exodus Homes helped her rebuild a life with her daughter.

“There was a time when my daughter wouldn’t allow me near her house, and I understand that today,” Sanders said. “It was because of my addiction, but today she stands beside me one million percent in everything I do.”

Sanders never thought she was worthy of the kind of love she now has from her daughter and friends and supporters at Exodus Homes.

“Today they let me know they love me for who I am,” she said. “They love me for what I’ve done. They love me for what I’m doing, and they love me for what I’m about to do.”

Sanders is happy to share her story of success, leading the orientations for new residents at Exodus Homes. She lets them know if she can do it, they can as well. She likes to remind them, no matter what’s in their past, it’s what they do in the present with the help of Exodus Homes that will determine their future.

“God continued to show me that I was still somebody regardless of what I’ve have done in the past,” Sanders said. “I can’t change that, but it doesn’t define who I am.”

She does remind everyone during orientation, the journey is hard.

“Every day isn’t going to be a good day, but it’s better than being out on the street doing illegal things and putting that poison in your bodies,” she said.

Sanders has a work phone and personal phone and tells everyone in orientation she doesn’t care what time of day or what time of night it is when they need help.

“If they’re heart gets heavy, if that demon gets on their shoulder telling them to leave and go get high, they can pick up that phone and call me.”

She’s been thankful to be able to take those calls and remind residents they have people they can turn to now that they’re with Exodus Homes. In 2020, the agency was able to help change the course of 146 lives. For more information about Exodus Homes, call 828-324-4870.

This article ran in the Hickory Daily Record on November 24th, 2021 and was written by John Bailey with Catawba County United Way.

Exodus Works Vans Get A Makeover

Exodus Works has had the first of two trucks decked out declaring our recent award by the Hickory Daily Record as the “Finest Moving Company” in Catawba Valley. Congratulations to all of our Exodus Workers and many thanks to everyone who voted for us!

Executive Director Rev. Reggie Longcrier and Assistant Executive Director Rev. Susan Smith show off the new look!

Rev. Reggie Longcrier Selected as Grand Marshal for the City of Hickory Lowes Foods Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

Photo was taken from the City of Hickory Website

The City of Hickory will host its annual holiday season kick-off event, the Lowes Foods Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting, on Friday, November 19. Lowes Foods has been the sponsor of this festive event since the first year.  

A special procession of the Fallen Heroes ministry to honor fallen soldiers from North Carolina will begin at 5:45 p.m., preceding the parade, which will directly follow at 6 p.m.  

Reverend Reggie Longcrier, longtime Chaplain of Catawba Correctional Center, has been selected as the grand marshal of the parade and will lead the floats, vehicles, and participants through downtown. Rev. Longcrier is the founder of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory, which is admired for its diversity, inclusiveness, and innovative approach for reaching minority populations. He is also the founder and executive director of Exodus Homes, a faith-based United Way organization dedicated to providing transitional to permanent supportive housing for people returning to the community from treatment centers and prison.  

Parade entries will be announced by hosts City Manager Warren Wood and Deputy City Attorney Arnita Dula and broadcasted through the new speakers along 1st Avenue NW. A committee made up of community leaders and volunteers will serve as judges of the parade and give awards for Most Creative, Most Christmas Spirit, Best Well-Crafted Theme, and Best of Show. 

At the conclusion of the parade, Santa’s float will stop at Union Square so he can light the Christmas tree in Downtown Hickory. Holiday music by Hickory Music Factory will be performed until 8:30 p.m. Although Santa will be departing for the North Pole after the tree lighting, the Snow Sisters of Once Upon A Time Entertainment at The Studio will offer socially distanced photos from inside their winter wonderland snow globe on Union Square.  

The Newton Depot Christmas Layout, sponsored by the Newton Depot Authority, will display two beautiful 8-foot by 6-foot trains and a moving trolley on The Sails on the Square Stage for all to see. 
 Visitors can also stop by the Hickory Downtown Development Association’s table to write a letter to Santa and mail it to the North Pole. 
 Numerous downtown businesses will remain open throughout the event and offer specials, making the evening a great time for patrons to begin their holiday shopping. 

This article was taken from the Hickory City Website. Please click here for more information on parade routes and registration.

Exodus Missionary Outreach United Church of Christ Fellowship Hall Renovation Unveiling Has Been Postponed to December 5th at 4:00 PM

Due to unforeseen delays in the final stages of construction on our fellowship hall in the Lowes 100 Hometowns Project this event is POSTPONED until December 5, 2021 at 4:00pm. We hope you will be able to join us then and we will send a reminder in the days to come. Thank you! 

Following the Lowe’s Home Improvement “100 Hometowns” Grant extensive renovations of the kitchen and two story fellowship hall of Exodus Missionary Outreach United Church of Christ in Hickory, an unveiling will be held welcoming congregants, volunteers, and community members! The renovation  included new flooring throughout the building, a new commercial freezer, oven, and toaster, air conditioning, a new hot and cold steam table, two handicapped accessible bathrooms, other handicap accessible features, expanded dining area, improved audio visual capability, and a mural by LA artist James Smith celebrating the 25th year of the Exodus Ministry.

The entire project has been coordinated by Tommy Luckadoo, a member of Corinth Church. Mayor Hank Guess will be on hand with remarks on behalf of the City of Hickory, the new name will be unveiled along with a ribbon cutting to celebrate the new and approved program location for Exodus Homes which uses the building frequently for meetings, dinners, workshops and other recovery related activities.

That day Exodus Missionary Outreach will also be celebrating their entry into the United Church of Christ denomination,, a change which has been in the works for several years. Exodus Missionary Outreach Church was founded in 1997 as a nontraditional, nondenominational church. Over the years the Rev. Reggie Longcrier and the Rev. Susan Smith learned about the United Church of Christ’s focus on racial justice, social justice, environmental justice and full equality for all people in Christ and felt it was a good fit for the church. This move into the UCC is a good one to ensure the future of the church in years to come. Dr. Edward Davis, Conference Minister of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ will share a few remarks and a new sign with their new name will be unveiled during the event.

We are excited to invite the public to join us for a tour of the newly renovated Fellowship Hall November 14, 2021 at 4:00pm at the Exodus Missionary Outreach United Church of Christ at 1763 Highland Ave. NE, Hickory, NC 28601.

Renovations Begin at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church on September 28th on Lowe’s Home Improvement 100 Hometowns Project “Red Vest Day”

Exodus Homes was selected in July to receive funding from Lowe’s Home Improvement in their “100 Hometowns” program to renovate the kitchen and fellowship hall of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory. The 100 Hometowns program is a nationwide initiative celebrating Lowe’s centennial, and they invited people across the country to nominate hometown projects in need. Lowe’s received more than 2,200 requests from all over the country and chose 100 community improvement projects that span urban, rural and suburban communities benefiting seniors, veterans, children, small business owners, students and programs like Exodus Homes. The renovation includes new flooring in the kitchen, a new commercial freezer, oven, and toaster, air conditioning, a new hot and cold steam table, two handicapped accessible bathrooms, other handicap accessible features, expanded dining area, improved audio visual capability, and a mural celebrating the 25th year of the Exodus Ministry.

Tommy Luckadoo, Project Manager; Eric Strickland, Lowes’ Home Improvement Store Manager on Hwy 127 N in Hickory; Jason Moore, Lowes’ Home Improvement Pro Department Supervisor; and the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes executive director
Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes executive director, and Lowes’ Home Improvement 100 Hometowns project manager Tommy Luckadoo

Earlier this year Tommy Luckadoo, who attends Corinth Church in Hickory, contacted the Rev. Susan Smith, Exodus Homes’ assistant executive director, and asked her if he could submit a grant on their behalf to Lowe’s to renovate the kitchen and fellowship hall at the church. For years Luckadoo and his family have volunteered in the Exodus ministry serving Thanksgiving dinner from the church for the community and he was well aware of the needs there. “I knew how much Exodus Homes uses the fellowship hall at the church for activities of their program and when I saw an opportunity to help them I jumped on it” he said. Over the past 18 years Exodus Homes has used the fellowship hall at the church for recovery meetings, special workshops, community recovery cook-outs, “sober socials”, 12 step meetings and other program events. One of the most important uses of the kitchen and fellowship hall has been to feed inmates from prison out on community volunteer passes and residents of Exodus Homes on Sundays and other special occasions. Mr. Luckadoo volunteered to manage the entire project which has been a full time effort over the past few months, “Tommy has been our champion to carry this huge undertaking for us and without him none of this would have happened” said the Rev. Susan Smith, Exodus Homes assistant executive director.

Eric Strickland is the “Store Captain” from Lowe’s Home Improvement on 1450 2nd St. NE in Hickory who has been working with Exodus Homes on the project. Luckadoo and Strickland worked to plan a “Red Vest Day” on September 28th where a dozen Lowe’s employees and 14 volunteers from Exodus Homes installed the ceiling tile in the kitchen, assembled shelves for the pantry, installed new lighting and and fans in the main dining room, painted the main dining room and part of the the lower level as well as the front railing and awning, repaired all the downspouts, pressured washed the sidewalks, and did landscaping of the whole property. Lowe’s donated two pallets of materials. “It is amazing to see so much progress in one day. A huge thanks goes to all the folks from Lowe’s and the volunteers from Exodus Homes. The difference from this morning to this evening is astounding” said Luckadoo. The Rev. Reggie Longcrier, executive director of Exodus Homes, was one of the volunteers on “Red Vest Day” and was amazed at the transformation of the fellowship hall saying, “We have hearts full of gratitude and are very humbled that we were chosen out of so many applicants. I can’t wait to offer breakfast before church, lunch after church, workshops, special programs and other recovery celebrations in the days to come. Many thanks to Lowe’s Home Improvement, Tommy Luckadoo, and all of the Lowe’s employees. We are so grateful. To God be the glory!”

Exodus Homes’ residents Bryan Miller, Exodus Works assistant supervisor; Dre Griffin, Exodus Works crew leader; and John Rucker, Exodus Works crew leader

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams to Announce $100,000 Donation to Exodus Homes’ Capital Campaign and Name New Building “Transformation Station”

Community Celebration to be held September 29th at the Agency’s New Housing Facility and Offices in Hickory, NC.     

imageSeptember 2018 / Taylorsville/Hickory, NC—Renowned home furnishings brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams will announce its commitment to donate $100,000 to the Capital Campaign of Exodus Homes at a Community Celebration on September 29, from 10am-12pm. The celebration will be at the agency’s new building, located at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams contribution gives them the naming rights.


The new building of Exodus Homes at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory features colorful murals inside and out that celebrate the non-profit’s vital work.

“We have so many stores and buildings with our name on it (smile) we decided we wanted to select a name that would have a wide range of meanings. In collaboration with the Exodus board and clients we’ve decided to call the building “Transformation Station” to represent a key stop on a new path to success for those in the agency’s programs. We also know from personal experience, working with and helping Exodus is transformative for every individual.”

Exodus Homes, an award-winning faith-based United Way agency that welcomes ALL people, provides supportive housing for homeless recovering people returning to their community from treatment programs and prison. 

The furniture giant has a long-standing relationship with the organization which has included financial support, furniture donations, and employment opportunities for the residents of Exodus Homes. “We think it’s so important to give back to our community in which our business and families are located. We hope our donation will challenge others in the community to give generously and help strengthen this important organization,” said Bob Williams, Co-Founder and President of Design.

The new building is a 12,000 square foot facility that will house the offices of Exodus Homes, the offices of its vocational training program Exodus Works, a thrift store, an education center, meeting rooms, a nonprofit sharing center and areas for records and donation storage. It will help Exodus consolidate management activities and give the organization a higher level of visibility and accessibility for the public. 

The building itself is a bright spot in the community with large, colorful murals inside and out that celebrate the nonprofit’s vital work.

vcsPRAsset_3528110_93743_1c171279-bdf3-4f98-abd2-ca686ef189b7_0Exodus Homes was founded in 1998 in response to the growing number of homeless people in Catawba County because of laws and policies that deny housing and employment to people recovering from addiction or returning from incarceration. It primarily serves people from Catawba County and Western NC. 

“Exodus Homes is such an important organization here in Hickory. It helps many who at times are unable to help themselves, don’t have a strong personal support system and assists in giving them a fresh start,” said Mitchell Gold, Co-Founder and Chair-man of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. “They should be incredibly proud of all they’ve accomplished; of all the people they’ve given more than hope to. Their new facilities will enable them to do even more!”

Based in Taylorsville and Statesville, NC Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has a modern manufacturing and distribution center spanning close to one million square feet that supports the brand’s expanding retail, wholesale, office and contract/hospitality sectors. The company partners with the agency’s vocational training program, Exodus Works, by placing residents of Exodus Homes in training positions in both locations that can lead to full time employment.   

Many consumers know the brand’s furnishings and philosophy of comfort from its extensive coverage in national and regional media. The company offers many employee- and family-friendly benefits that help attract top talent, including a not-for-profit, education-based on-site childcare center and a health-conscious gourmet café run by the company’s corporate chef at its headquarters. The company also provides a gym, health fairs, an on-site nurse, and college scholarships for children of employees. 

“The community celebration on September 29 will include tours of the building and identify areas named by major donors as well as announce the total amount raised to date in the Exodus capital campaign,” said Rev. Susan Walker, assistant executive director of the organization. Hal Rowe, WHKY radio talk show host will be the emcee for a short program at 11:00am with a ribbon cutting and remarks by Hickory Ward 4 Alderman David Williams and Hickory Mayor Hank Guess. 

For more information about Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams contact Samantha Jacobson or 646-272-8432.  For more information about Exodus Homes or the community celebration on September 29 contact Rev. Susan Walker at 828-962-8916.

Catawba Correctional Center Inmates Paint New Exodus Homes Building

Catawba Correctional Center Paints New Exodus Building

Jason Davis and Donald Young are seen painting the interior of the new Exodus Thrift Store at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory. The purchase of the new Exodus building is part of a $1,057,000 capital campaign that is underway now. When open, it will house the Exodus Thrift Store, Exodus Homes offices, Exodus Works vocational training enterprises, education and meeting rooms, and a non-profit sharing center.

HICKORY – When the Exodus Homes’ new building at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory was ready for interior painting, it was natural to ask the inmates at Catawba Correctional Center for help. The faith-based United Way agency that provides supportive housing for homeless recovering people wanted to give the men from the prison in Newton an opportunity to help get the building ready for it’s grand opening which is planned for September 29, 2018.  For the past 20 years, Exodus Homes has served many men from Catawba Correctional Center with housing, weekly community visits for church and special events, as well as going into the prison with special programs. The men from the prison are grateful for all Exodus has done for them over the years. “I like having an opportunity to give back to a community that I took so much from ” said Jason Davis. Donald Young added “I used to live right down the road from this building and I want to see my neighborhood improve and thrive.” James Johnson said “I wanted to be part of something where I can make a difference in my community”. Sean Jennings agreed saying “I love Exodus so much because they give us the tools we need to rehabilitate ourselves. That is part of our recovery”. The chaplain’s clerk John Turner  said “It’s exciting to get out in society again and be a productive citizen making a contribution.”

The Rev. Reggie Longcrier is the chaplain of Catawba Correctional Center  as well as the founding executive director of Exodus Homes. “This is an awesome opportunity to be able to bring them out for this cause. They were eligible, able, and willing. The inmates at the prison are part of the Exodus Movement too.”

Electronic Sign Donated to New Exodus Homes Building

HICKORY – Dawn Rippy-Brunton and her husband Roger Brunton live in Shelby, and are members of Emanuel Reformed Church in Lincolnton where the Rev. Susan Smith Walker is the pastor. Walker is also assistant executive director of Exodus Homes, the faith-based United Way agency in Hickory that provides supportive housing for homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prisons. The Bruntons learned about Exodus Homes through Walker and were interested in the organization’s  $1,057,000 capital campaign which is well underway now.  They had operated a gift shop several years ago and when it closed they saved the wireless electronic sign. “We had planned to sell it for a few years, but after I toured their new building and saw their passion for their mission, we decided we would donate it to them” said Dawn Brunton.

Electronic Sign

Seen left to right are the Rev. Susan Smith Walker, Exodus Homes assistant executive director; Roger Brunton; Dawn Rippy-Brunton; the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes executive director; and Catie Brown, Exodus Homes resident and capital campaign coordinator. The 5 ft. wide wireless electronic sign in the middle was donated to Exodus Homes by the Bruntons for their new building at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory which was purchased as part of their three year $1,057,000 capital campaign which is ongoing now.

The new building at 610 4th St. SW has 12,000 sq. ft. and will house the offices of Exodus Homes, the offices of their vocational training enterprises Exodus Works, and their thrift store. The building was purchased last December with a loan from Capital Bank and will be paid off with funds raised in the three year capital campaign. It is being renovated now. They plan to move into the building  in stages, beginning with the thrift store.

The sign is five ft. long and is valued at $3,500. When operational, it will sit inside one of the new display windows and scroll electronic messages to the public about sales, new stock, and special events. “Our new thrift store will be beautiful, and this sign takes it to another level by helping draw people in as they drive by” said the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, executive director of Exodus Homes.
Walker is proud of her Lincolnton church members who appreciate the fact that Exodus Homes has served people from Lincolnton and the Shelby area for many years. “This gift from the Bruntons is a blessing and will add to the landmark appeal of our new building along with our outdoor mural” she said.
Other projects in the Exodus Homes capital campaign include major renovations to all of their housing locations plus newer model vehicles, tools, and equipment for Exodus Works. For more information about Exodus Homes, go to or contact the Rev. Susan Smith Walker at 828-962-8196 or

Mural Artist Transforms New Building for Exodus Homes

HICKORY – James Smith was eight years old in 1997 when his mother, the Rev. Susan Smith Walker, took him to a new church in Hickory shortly after moving there from Charlotte. Exodus Missionary Outreach Church was only three weeks old and meeting in a local funeral home, the Dirk M. Thompson Mortuary Chapel. That was the beginning of a life long relationship with the Exodus ministry. James and his sister Rachael grew up in Exodus Church and were witnesses to the founding of Exodus Homes, the faith based United Way supportive housing program for homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prison. His mother worked long hours and James was often there with her at Exodus Homes after school and on the weekends. Smith has seen the struggle of homeless recovering people, and also the joy of their transformation. “My mom has given her life to Exodus, and it is as much a part of me as it is for her.”

Exodus Homes Mural

James Smith is seen with the original outdoor mural he created for the new building of Exodus Homes and Exodus Works at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory.

Today James is a very successful mural artist from Asheville with plans to move to San Diego soon to pursue his dreams. Before he leaves for the west coast he came back to Hickory to spend some time with his mom, and leave his mark on Exodus as they prepare to take the organization to the next level with a $1,057,000 capital campaign which is underway now.  Part of the capital campaign project is the purchase of a 12,000 sq.ft building at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory where the organization plans to consolidate the management activities of Exodus Homes, their vocational training enterprises Exodus Works, and their thrift store. When they bought the building, they decided the 20ft x 40ft outside wall would be perfect for a mural to communicate their mission. “We knew long ago that James would be our mural artist because he is a part of the Exodus family,” said the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, executive director of Exodus Homes.

Exodus Thrift Store Murals

James Smith is seen creating original murals inside the thrift store area of the new Exodus Homes and Exodus Works building at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory.

Exodus Homes and Exodus Works are primarily operated by the residents of the program in volunteer staff roles, and primarily funded with revenue generated by them in Exodus Works, as well as fees paid by those who work in outside employment. One recovering person helping another is at the core of their organizational values. The mural is built around a theme of “transformed people transforming people” with images that show a commitment to diversity and equality for all people.  Smith created the original design, and has been working on the mural for a week. The mural is already blessing the community as people driving by slow down, honk their horns, and shout things like “Amazing!” and Beautiful!”  He still has a few finishing touches to do, while also working on murals inside of the building where the thrift store will be located. “I have designed the murals inside to communicate the miracles of recovery such as joy, gratitude, peace, dignity, and victory. People will feel a part of our ministry when they enter, and leave with an uplifted spirit” he said.

The Rev. Susan Smith Walker is very proud of her son’s work in what is bound to become a Hickory landmark, saying “My son has a God-given gift. He never went to art school or took an art lesson, but he is more talented than many who have trained for years. As he goes to follow his dreams in San Diego, the gift of these murals will bless me with his presence every time I see them.”

Catawba County United Way Helps Fight Opioid Epidemic at Exodus Homes

HICKORY – When people think of Exodus Homes, many times they think about homeless people coming back to the community from jails and prison. The faith-based supportive housing agency agency wants the community to know that they also serve homeless people returning home from substance abuse treatment centers, and the important role United Way plays in stabilizing new residents who are recovering from opioid addiction to pills and heroin. Most detox centers will treat addiction for 4-7 days before discharge and this is not long enough for most people who have have been using opiates heavily. “When they arrive at Exodus Homes, they are sick and shaky. They are still craving opiates, and not able to fully participate in the recovery program for up to 30 days” says the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes executive director.
United Way Logo 2015Thanks to a $35,000 grant from the United Way, they have the ability to support these sick residents until they are strong enough to participate in the program fully, especially in the vocational training program Exodus Works. During the first 30 days at Exodus Homes, United Way funds help support a period of stabilization so they can receive medical care and social services while they rest and get their strength back. “We are very grateful for the United Way. The funds we receive from them enables us to support residents in that critical first 30 days when they are coming back to life” said the Rev. Susan Walker, assistant executive of the agency.

Exodus Homes has been a United Way agency since 2001 and their funding has been a key to success for the organization which is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year. For more information about how to apply for the program, call Catie Brown at 828-324-4870 or go to their website The application is under the “Program” tab and it needs to be faxed to 828-324-7983.