In response to a seemingly growing problem of homelessness in Tyler, the city gave a vacant building on Valentine to Gateway to Hope, a nonprofit organization that has been working with homeless population for years.
The Resource Center is now a place where the homeless go to clean up, wash their clothes, obtain photo identifications, keep in contact with loved ones and use computers to access social services and find jobs.
Barbara Gilbreath is the secretary of Gateway to Hope. She sees what is happening.
“The re-sponse has been amazing,” she said in correspondence with the paper. “In just four weeks time, there were 1,040 visits to the Resource Room, and during those visits the following services were rendered: 127 haircuts, 220 showers, 250 loads of laundry, 412 computer usages, 71 photo IDs, and 227 message center needs.”
Perhaps more encouraging, 20 people used the center to find jobs — a key step for some to get back on their feet.
“The atmosphere at Gateway to Hope is warm and welcoming,” Gilbreath continues “It's the nearest to home that many of those living on the streets and under the bridges have felt in a long, long time.”
She says many who frequent the center are developing a renewed sense of pride, purpose and self-worth.
The center is mostly staffed by Gateway to Hope volunteers. Some medical services are being provided by Bethesda Clinic.
Gilbreath wants more people to be aware of what is taking place at the center and how it is improving lives.
“And, we would hope this awareness would prompt financial support,” she says. “We estimate the operational expenses of Gateway will be approximately $6,000 a month. The (financial) resources to date have come from churches, individuals and some foundations but more is needed.”
Anyone is welcome to visit the Resource Center. To find out more about Gateway to Hope, see its website gatewaytohope.org.
Join Danny Mogle on the “In Touch With East Texas” radio show airing at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday on KYKX 105.7 FM and The Ranch KKUS 104.1 FM and at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday on Sunny 106.5 FM.