Sunday, July 14, 2024

Hope on hold for the homeless community; Couch Surfer Ministries ‘on the brink’

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When Michael and Alysha Reed founded Couch Surfer Ministries in November 2019, their mission was clear: to provide shelter, food, and spiritual guidance to people experiencing homelessness in Hood County. What began as a small endeavor inspired by their faith and a burning desire to serve God has become a vital resource for the community’s most vulnerable members. Now, as the shelter faces the heartbreaking prospect of closing its doors, the impact of its work and the void it will leave behind becomes all the more evident.

COMMUNITY REACTIONS

“Last week alone, our case managers received 11 calls from individuals and families who were homeless and asking for help with shelter,” explained Dusti Scovel, Executive Director of Mission Granbury. “Six were single women, two were single men, and three were families with children.  Of those, one of the single men planned to go to Couch Surfers today. We helped the others in a variety of ways.” She added, “Despite what some may think homelessness in Hood County exists and is not going away and we have very limited resources to serve them.” 

Central Operations Director Ken Freeman of Stonewater Church highlighted the broader challenges facing the homeless in Granbury, with the domestic violence center and Couch Surfers being the only available shelter options. “We’ve seen about 2-3 homeless individuals a week needing assistance,” he said. “With limited shelter options, we do what we can, including offering transportation to metroplex shelters, gas vouchers, and food assistance.”

The individual seeking assistance must call the shelters directly, as they will ask several personal questions to assess qualifications if a spot becomes available. “Once the person has identified a place with available space where they would like to go, we (the church) can provide transportation services to the designated shelter,” Freeman explained.

Scovel echoed the sentiment. “The number of homeless seeking our services has grown by over 75% in recent years,” she said. “We partner with various nonprofits to assist them, but the lack of affordable housing and public transportation makes achieving self-sufficiency difficult.”

Granbury Sheriff Roger Deeds and Police Chief Mitch Galvan also recognize the importance of organizations like Couch Surfer Ministries. “Our deputies sometimes help with rides or money,” said Deeds. “We refer individuals to churches and shelters when we can.” Chief Galvan added, “We get them in touch with social services organizations, including Couch Surfers, to provide the assistance they need.”

A MISSION BORN OF FAITH

Michael Reed recounts the ministry’s inception as a divine calling. “In October 2019, my wife Alysha was baptized, and I rededicated my life to Christ,” he said. “I felt a burning desire to serve God, and He led me into ministry.” During a Celebrate Recovery service at Lakeside Baptist, Reed met homeless men from a shelter in Fort Worth, sparking the idea for Couch Surfer Ministries.

“We discovered that one of the men was from Granbury but had to leave because there were no resources here,” Reed explained. “By Thanksgiving of 2019, we had over 20 men with us, seeking shelter, food, fellowship, and a new start.”

COMPREHENSIVE SUPPORT FOR THE HOMELESS

Couch Surfer Ministries offers a range of services aimed at helping individuals get back on their feet. “We provide shelter, food, clothing, and help with obtaining documentation for jobs or financial assistance,” said Reed. “But above all, we offer a listening ear and biblical guidance, primarily using the book of Proverbs for its wisdom and problem-solving advice.”

Despite their efforts, financial challenges persist. “We are self-funded and don’t qualify for many grants due to our faith-based nature,” Reed noted. “We rely heavily on donations from churches and individuals, but making ends meet has become increasingly difficult.”

THE IMPACT OF CLOSURE

The decision to close Couch Surfer Ministries comes as a heartbreaking but necessary step. “We simply are not receiving the donation support we once did,” Reed lamented. “Our family has had to fill the financial gaps, which has taken a toll on us.”

The closure will leave a significant void in Hood County. “People may not realize the extent of homelessness here,” Reed said. “Without our shelter, some individuals may resort to desperate measures, potentially leading to increased crime.”

A CALL TO ACTION

As Couch Surfer Ministries prepares to close its doors, Reed remains hopeful that the community will intervene and turn the situation around. However, he affirms, “Even if we close, our mission to serve will continue. We will still offer outreach and provide tents, showers, clothes, and food. Maybe God has a different plan for us, or this is a call for others to step up and help.”

Reed advises other organizations to “Be a ‘hand up’, not a handout. Support organizations that hold individuals accountable and truly help them improve their circumstances.”

The community of Granbury has undoubtedly benefited from Couch Surfer Ministries’ dedicated service. As the Reeds navigate this difficult transition, they remain committed to their faith and believe that “God’s will is being done, and for His glory, not ours.”

Donations to support Couch Surfer Ministries can be sent to 4428 Old Granbury Road, Granbury, Texas, 76049. The ministry faces closure without support, with monthly operating costs for the building and necessities for about twenty homeless clients totaling approximately $5,000. Since operating hours vary, it’s recommended to call ahead at 817-663-5384. Your contributions can help keep the ministry’s doors open and provide essential services to those in need.

According to Reed, Hood County has consistently shown generosity whenever Couch Surfer Ministries requests items such as shoes, boots, food, personal hygiene products, and cleaning supplies. However, the ministry is currently facing financial hardship specifically related to covering the costs of the building and utilities. This is where the organization is most in need of support.