Don Wesson

Volunteers Gather to Help Restore Historic African American Church in Addison

Sometimes you have to tear down before you can build back up. That's what volunteers did on Tuesday at White Rock Chapel in Addison.

"Even from this morning it's been transformed," said Don Wesson, who bought the historic African-American church with his wife, Wanda, to restore it and make it a place for racial reconciliation. "All of these faith-led people are coming together to work together."

Dozens of volunteers of all backgrounds and faiths gathered for 'demo day', tearing out the old sheet rock, carpet, and fixtures to prepare the church for interior renovations.

"We're already, what, 30, 40 strong here working," Jesus Monge said as he tossed drywall in a dumpster. Monge is part of Cornbread Hustle, a staffing agency that gives people who have struggled in life a second chance.

"We don't say second chance," Wesson said. "We say another chance because many of us have required more than a second chance."

Wesson made Cornbread Hustle the first tenant at White Rock Chapel.

"I had a desire to do something better, but no options, no avenues to go down. I was stuck in neutral," Monge said. "Being able to be part of a cause gives my life purpose, meaning."

That was the Wessons vision when they bought the chapel.

The congregation was established in 1884 by freed slaves who purchased the property from the man who enslaved them, with the promise it would always be used as a place of faith.

"I see all God's people," Monge said as he looked out over the volunteers. "Just imagine if we had a whole community like this. This is just the beginning."

The Wessons said if donations of time and money allow, they hoped to have White Rock Chapel reopened in three to six months.

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