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Nonprofit aims to ‘reach the incarcerated’

Ron Biggers, the founder and head of Main Thing First, stands next to the church building wing that the Adventure Bible Church on South Main Street is allowing his organization to use. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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[This post has been updated to correct the spelling of the organization’s name.]

A relatively new Christian-oriented nonprofit in Roswell that seeks to solve the problems facing the incarcerated and their families has found a new location.

Main Thing First, which was officially incorporated in May and is headed by local hospital and prison chaplain Ron Biggers, has entered an agreement to cover utility costs for the use of a five-room annex to the Adventure Bible Church building at 1905 S. Main St.

“We are grateful to the church, Pastor Tim Arlet, and Adventure Bible Church,” said Biggers about the location.

Although his nonprofit is in its infancy and the location is new, he said he thinks both have a great deal of potential.

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“The vision is to reach the incarcerated, starting with the children first and then moving on to help the incarcerated back into the community,” Biggers said.

Some debris removal at the site, thanks to volunteers from Pastor Joe Diaz’s ministry, has already occurred, and Biggers is planning interior painting Saturday starting at 9 a.m. He is seeking volunteers, hopefully that will bring their own paint, brushes, rollers and ladders, if possible. Of course, he also would welcome donations of supplies or money.

The organization also is facing at least $7,000 for immediate renovations, including adding two bathrooms and putting in new doors. He said he has received donations in the past from several locals and has a dedicated corp of volunteers of about 10 to 12 people.

Once the new location is staffed and up and running, Biggers, who also is working with the Roswell Homeless Coalition, expects to invite families in to learn what they might need, whether housing, educational assistance, addiction recovery or counseling. The organization will then refer them to the appropriate agencies and, when needed, provide Christian-based counseling as well, with the the aim of healing the difficulties and wounds caused by the problem behavior and the incarceration. He also plans at some point in the future to offer child care and high school-equivalency preparation for people who might not want or be able to go to college campuses.

Until the new office and training center is ready, Biggers is meeting with people who might need counseling one-on-one in the community or at local detention facilities.

A former youth minister at Grace Community Church who also runs a Christmas Angel Tree program (separate from the one run by the Salvation Army), Biggers said he had a religious epiphany while attending a men’s Christian retreat in 2002 that prompted him to turn his attention to the founding and heading of Main Thing First Ministries.

He said the aim is not only to help families stay together during and after incarceration, if that is what they want, but to address other social issues in the community as well.

“Together we can reduce the recidivism rate,” he said. “Together we can reduce the number of children that copy the adult’s behavior. Together we can reduce crime and all the high cost.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.