June 12, 2020
When they launched in 2001 to address homelessness in Houston, a chronic and overwhelming problem, Crossroads had a clear vision for how they wanted to make an impact. They envisioned a hygiene center that would enable them to provide showers and clothes washing. As they grew, their expanded services included meals and a clothing pantry.
Every week for years, they opened their doors on Tuesdays and Thursdays to offer a hot breakfast, delicious lunch, showers, clothes washing, and haircuts. Their space, which is currently part of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, was also available to other organizations, so the homeless could meet with representatives to talk about food stamps, housing, and more.
The backbone of their financial support has come from five covenant partners, who are highly committed to their cause, and the backbone of their services has come from the support of volunteers, who are equally committed. Recently, however, Crossroads applied for and received a grant from TMF. The grant was one piece of a larger campaign meant to help them continue expanding. They raised funds to buy portable buildings that would give them more space to help the homeless and to renovate St. Paul’s kitchen. Everything was moving forward successfully.
Then, the pandemic hit.
On March 5th, their services ceased. The church closed. For three weeks they were unable to offer assistance. Still, there were people coming to the church who needed help. After conversations with the pastor, Crossroads Executive Director Doug Fortner developed a plan to start distributing food. Since Crossroads already had a good relationship with Houston Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry, this would be a perfect opportunity to shift services in order to meet current needs.
The Mobile Food Pantry would fill pallets with food and drop it in a location for distribution, and St. Paul’s was in a prime location with hungry families all around. Paired with the Mobile Food Pantry pallets, Doug worked with a donor who offered 1,500 pounds of rice, 1,500 pounds of beans, and 5,000 tortillas to help get the food distribution off the ground. By the time April came, Crossroads was ready.
They have been giving away food to 450 families every week!
The need in their area is great, so great, in fact, it is changing the outlook Crossroads has for their mission. While their services will always target the homeless, they fully intend to continue their food distribution services to needy families once the pandemic ends. “We have been providing more services to the community,” Doug noted. “Previously we were just focused on the homeless population, but now we are more aware of the needs of our neighbors and we are focused on serving the entire community. I think our food distribution will continue for the long term. TMF’s funding helped us make this transition and we are grateful for those funds. When an organization like TMF provides grants during a crisis, they help with emergency needs, but in our situation, this crisis has helped us think about how we can serve an even larger section of the community.”