Crowdfunding helps watchman of future Innovate ABQ site

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An unusual situation has come up in downtown at the future home of Innovate ABQ. It turns out the First Baptist Church that was recently purchased for the project was actually the home of a volunteer security guard. Now a crowdfunding project is underway to make sure that man gets a new home.

For the past few years, Richard “Sonny” Hodge has watched over the church on the corner of Broadway and Central, driving off would-be vandals and squatters from the church and Noon Day Ministries.

“I got to stay here. I was working 12 hours a night. It would’ve been silly for me to have to pay rent and stay somewhere else,” Hodge told KRQE News 13. “I worked all night and slept during the daytime. It worked out.”

UNM closed on the church last month for Innovate ABQ, a project that’s supposed to help revitalize downtown and spur growth.

This meant Hodge was left without a home. He suffered a brain injury several years ago, limiting his ability to work. Hodge has been staying with the director of Noon Day Ministries for the past few weeks.

The goal now is to get Hodge a travel trailer to live in so he can continue to keep an eye on Noon Day.

The Sonny Project, a crowdfunding venture, was started by UNM to help make that a reality. It’s raised about a quarter of the money needed so far.

“I appreciate everything, I really do,” Hodge said.

The director of Noon Day Ministries expects they’ll be up and running at their new location near 2nd and Menaul in October or November.

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