Who Are the Homeless in San Angelo?
SAN ANGELO, TX -- The 3rd Thursday of January every year is designated as National Point in Time (PIT), the official count of the homeless.
Major Tim Grider, Director of the Salvation Army Shelter, along with his wife, Cheryl Grider, explained the PIT process.
“All government Metropolitan Statistical Areas across the U.S. take part in the count on the same day.”
This year, the Salvation Army of the Concho Valley Emergency Shelter at 215 Gillis, provided the count for the homeless but sheltered.
“St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church hosted the unsheltered count by searching under bridges, encampment areas, and isolated areas. This was conducted by 5 different teams of volunteers.”
On hand for the annual PIT was Bob Salas, the official mediator for the City of San Angelo Neighborhood and Family Services.
The result of the count: At last tally, the number is 240.
In 2017, the Shelter served 14,508 individuals. That is double the number from 2014.
“The national economy is one factor for the increase,” explained Grider.
“Most of the people who have been here in my time since 2014, come from northern and northwest states.”
“That includes New Mexico all the way around to the Dakotas.”
“They hear about oil field jobs in Texas and migrate here.”
The men’s dorm is on one side of the shelter, and the women’s has rooms for mothers and their children.
The Salvation Army Shelter is clean but well worn, to say the least. 200 meals are served each day out of a kitchen that is not much larger than one you would find in a family residence.
The cooks are shelter residence.
The donation drop-off point has been moved to the Thrift Store at 2225 W. Beauregard.
Grider also pointed out the empty field west of the Shelter as an area where the Salvation Army could expand.
Who are the homeless?
Sixty percent of Salvation Army residents have regular jobs. Another 20% are in the step up phase that prepares them for work: learning how to fill out an application, get references—phone numbers, names and titles—and putting together a resume when their current status is of one who is homeless.
One resident told me, “One [disadvantage] leads to another and then it’s like you can’t find your way out.”
After seven days at the Shelter, each person, along with staff led by Melodie Lane, Shelter Director, completes a Course of Action which determines what services are needed for that individual.
And there are many agencies that support the Salvation Army, for example Catholic Outreach, which helps with clothing, and Concho Valley Workforce Solutions, which helps with employment.
Many of the residents need mental health services, and there are counseling services in San Angelo that provide scaled fees based on income.
MHMR, the most well-known mental health facility in the Concho Valley, has a waiting list of more than five years.
Somebody’s Rusty was one of the ministries present, and there was a story to tell about the unusual name.
Doree Wegner along with Laura Mallory, both members of First United Methodist Church, explained.
“Candis Hicks is the founder of the ministry which helps the homeless and families in need.
“Rusty was John Russell "Rusty" Wells, who in spite of trying to take control of his life became homeless and died about four years ago of cirrhosis of the liver.”
Candis’ son, spotting a homeless man on the street, said to her, “Look Mom. That’s somebody’s Rusty. Hence, the name.
Arvion Thomas, one of the Shelter’s residents stuck pretty close to the women from Somebody’s Rusty.
Arvion admits that “in times gone by,” he was “pretty rowdy, and got in trouble with the law.”
He left east Texas with the clothes on his back to take a job in the oil fields, until the boom went bust.
He cried when he told me that he hadn’t spoken to his daughter in many years. He gave me her name and asked if I would try to find her.
To learn more about Somebody’s Rusty and the many services they provide visit the Concho Valley Homepage at http://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/.
To learn more about the Salvation Army or to make a donation the website is http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/sanangelo/.
UPDATED 01/29/2018 3:00 p.m.
MHMR of the Concho Valley has no witing list according to MHMR board member Diana Spieker.