Carol Barnwell reports for the Diocese of Texas:
The 1960 Hope Center, a ministry for the homeless founded in August 2016 by St. Dunstan’s, Houston, now has more than 30 area churches that help support the day center. It is one of the only agencies serving homeless men and women in the area.
“Forty people were living in the woods across the street from the church and we didn’t even know it,” said Debbie Johnson, a member of St. Dunstan’s, president of the Center’s Board of Directors and one of the founders of Hope Center. “Father Rob (Price) found a man charging his phone at an outside outlet at the church and asked where he lived. ‘In the woods,’ the man said, pointing to the trees next to the church. Ultimately, we found that there are more than 1,000 homeless people in our part of the county,” Johnson said.
While the day center has only two paid staff—the executive director and a security guard at the front door—more than 100 volunteers help provide a hot lunch and resources to nearly 750 guests a month. Hope Center is open Monday through Friday, 9-3, and during inclement weather.
“We barely found this place,” Johnson said. “Although many people want to help, there is a ‘Not in my neighborhood’ mentality,” Johnson said. The Center is currently raising funds to move to a larger space to meet growing needs.
While Hope Center offers job counseling, help with resumes and access to a computer for those seeking work, successful outcomes are not always achieved. The stories are as varied as the people who walk through the door for a hot lunch or a weekly shower.
Bob Butler, a former Baptist minister, is executive director of the 1960 Hope Center. According to Bob Butler, Hope Center’s executive director, some homeless people are not able to hold down a job because of mental issues. Others are simply working poor struggling to stay afloat on minimum-wage jobs.
“For addicts, success just may be getting into a detox program. For a widow from South Korea, success was help negotiating governmental agencies to get the necessary documents to access her husband’s death benefits,” Butler said.