The desire to see Hiway 80 Rescue Mission take over operations at Gateway to Hope, a day resource room for homeless people, came out of a conversation and friendship with the organization that grew, a Gateway board member said.
Tyler City Councilman Don Warren, a Gateway to Hope board member, said Hiway 80 was one of several area agencies that several months ago provided a caseworker to work with Gateway clients.
At that point, Gateway realized the importance for each of its clients to individually meet with a caseworker.
"In the past, we provided all these services, but I think we failed to really help them define … their needs," Warren said. "The goal in the beginning was to create a gateway into the community and we lacked that caseworker element, which is what Hiway 80 brings to the picture, among other things."
Hiway 80 Rescue Mission and Gateway to Hope plan to enter an agreement to allow Hiway 80 to operate the Gateway facility at 601 E. Valentine St. for a six-month time frame.
Gateway announced in February that it would be temporarily closing to reassess its role in the community and hire a new executive director. Neither Gateway nor Hiway 80 leadership had a specific opening date.
Hiway 80 is a nonprofit organization that operates a shelter in Longview and has a Tyler Outreach Office.
It has been serving East Texans who are homeless and in need since 1995, according to a news release.
Since the East Texas Rescue Mission in Tyler closed in 2010, Hiway 80 Rescue Mission has stepped up its Tyler efforts.
Under this new agreement, Hiway 80 would operate Gateway to Hope for a six-month period, but the six-member Gateway board would remain involved, Warren said.
At the end of the six months, the boards of both agencies will make a decision regarding how to proceed.
Warren said those involved are still determining goals but, in general, they want to make sure "that it's a good fit for the community and that the clients of Gateway to Hope are entering in the community as productive."
Through this change, Warren expects each client's "chances of being plugged back into the community … to increase" because of the one-on-one attention from caseworkers.
Those caseworkers can help each person find out what they need and how to address those needs, he said.
Gateway to Hope board President Tracy Crawford said the agreement is not a done deal, though he thinks it will be soon.
Crawford said the city of Tyler has a part to play in the decision because it owns the building that houses Gateway to Hope.
In March 2014, the Tyler City Council renewed a special use permit for Gateway to Hope to continue to operate for five more years.
City officials met with Gateway and Hiway 80 representatives Thursday evening to discuss the plan.
Crawford said he was very optimistic that the agreement between the two organizations would be finalized soon and he felt very good about it.
"I think that it is in keeping with the representations that we've made to the city and the people of the Tyler community," he said.
He described Hiway 80 as a "very well qualified organization" and said the six-month timeframe will give Gateway's leadership an opportunity to observe Hiway 80's work more closely.
Hiway 80 Executive Director Eric Burger said in Tyler, Hiway 80 has been coordinating services for homeless people at an area clinic; providing alcohol and drug recovery services to this city's homeless who desire it; shuttling people to and from its Longview shelter as needed; providing holiday outreaches; and helping eliminate the barriers that keep homeless people from getting a job.
Through the support of several Tyler churches, Hiway 80 has raised revenue to provide for a staff that can work here with people in need, Burger said.
This revenue and the church support behind it is what makes it possible for Hiway 80 to staff Gateway at the right level with the caliber of trained staff needed to do the job, Burger said.
The organization plans to have up to three staff members at Gateway. These include Gary Crim, Hiway 80's Tyler director, and Dawn Moltzan, who will oversee special projects, which involves program development, case management with women and volunteer coordinator.
Burger said they are still working out the details of the third position, but plan to hire someone.
Crim said Gateway would continue to provide the services it did before including shower and laundry facilities, lockers and computers.
The key to their work and that of the people who seek help from Gateway is to focus on Christ, he said.
"We can't change people," he said, "but Christ can."