Shelby County Outreach Ministries works to open a homeless shelter

By Holley Nees - email

CENTER, TX (KTRE) – According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are more than 25,000 people in Shelby County, but there is no homeless shelter.  However, the executive director of Shelby County Outreach Ministries, Pam White, is trying to raise the money to buy a place for homeless people in Shelby County to call home.

If you can't afford clothes, you can shop at the outreach facility in Center for free, and if you're hungry for a hot lunch, pull up a chair, but, if you don't have a home and you're searching for shelter, White said you won't find it.

"It's very frustrating because there is nothing anywhere in our county that we can help with unless we can pay for a night or two in a motel," said White.

"I lost my home, it burned down," said Outreach Client Stacey Johnson.  "If it weren't for this place right here, I'd be in a world of trouble.  There's a lot of people that don't have anywhere to go.  For a while, I didn't have anywhere to go."

However, there's hope to change that with what could be the county's first homeless shelter.

The ministry already feeds and clothes about 600 people each month, but White said with $100,000 they could open up the homeless shelter in a building in Center.  It's more than 16,000 square feet and Johnson said he would use it.

"A lot of people they may say, well I got too much pride, but in the long run, they'll break down," explained Johnson.  "I would use it, sure I would."

"It would help me too because I stay with my niece," said Outreach Client Lawonda Polley.

While some people may not see the homelessness, White admits there is a need.

"You don't see people on the street too much," White said.  "They're either at the river or in their car or something.  They're not under bridges and stuff like that where most people think."

"They can't get jobs, they're losing their houses, their families and all that," said Allen Collins who was working at the shelter.

For now, White said they're fundraising to make a purchase that could give those in need more than just a warm bed.

"We like to not just give a handout, but we do like to help people get back on their feet," she said.

"To me, that means that there's someone in the world that still cares," said Johnson.

If Shelby County Outreach Ministries is able to purchase the facility, they said they would also open up a soup kitchen at the homeless shelter.  Right now, they are organizing different events to raise money for the shelter.

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