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Veterans may benefit from home's rebirth page 2
Founder of ministry that started 45 years ago in King George works with volunteers on a new focus: to reach out to wounded warriors

 Betty Tyson rests at the Village of Emmaus in King George. Emmaus started in the 1960s as a refuge for people having hard times and for women just out of prison.
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Date published: 10/12/2012


That's why she and her husband and parents bought the property, formerly known as Shelbourne. They barely had a penny to their names, but the former owner had done renovations and upgrades so he could open a boys' home on the property.

His plans lasted only six months, and he wanted the Tysons and others to have the place for their mission.

The Tysons borrowed money to cover the contract fees, then took over the mortgage of the estate.

They and the Benfields also formed a nonprofit group called Christian Community Inc., which still owns the property. Tyson is the executive director.

Only once in its 45-year history did Emmaus get federal money: a grant to help buy books and other equipment for the boarding school the ministry established. At other times, Emmaus survived on donations from churches or individuals who heard about the King George program.

"Probably three-fourths of those people aren't still on this earth," Tyson said.

The property was cared for regularly until about 10 years ago, when Tyson's husband became ill. She cared for him for 8 years, until he became a complete invalid. She set up a hospital bed on the first floor of the house, and spent time at Emmaus when she wasn't in the family's home in Scottsville.

After her husband died in 2010, she took care of her mother, who passed away at age 100, in January.

"I'm the last one, so I've had a lot of sad and lonely days here," she said, looking out the back porch into the woods. "But this property has a wonderful legacy."


Dan Rieck, the leader of the men's ministry at the Burke church, heard about some of that legacy through a mutual acquaintance of his and Tyson's. Rieck is a retired Navy captain who wanted to work with veterans, particularly those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He visited Emmaus and invited Tyson to speak at the men's breakfast this spring. She gave a history of the ministry and her vision for the future.

"It's hard not to get on board with her, she sort of radiates a positive love," said Michael Dickerson, a Burke church member who has served as project coordinator. "There were a number of us who stood up that day and said, 'We're going to help you.' "

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THE NAME: In the 24th chapter of Luke, followers of Jesus were discussing his crucifixion as they walked to a village named Emmaus. Jesus joined them, but did not reveal himself to them until they broke bread together, and his followers understood he'd been resurrected. Betty Tyson sees the same symbolism at the Village of Emmaus in King George County. "We always called this the road to a new beginning," she said. A HISTORY of the King George ministry is available at villageofemmaus.org. THOSE INTERESTED in helping with the project can contact Betty Tyson at 540/621-1258 or btyson@villageofemmaus .org.