David Hubbard has spent most of his 54 years building and remodeling houses. Today, however, he faces his biggest job yet: Rebuilding his own life.
When he met Brandon Greene, founder and executive director of Hope Station in Palestine, Hubbard was sleeping in a vehicle, doing odd jobs, and living on the street.
For 25 years, that's how he rolled.
Many of those years Hubbard spent jumping freight trains from state to state, doing day labor, when he could find it, and battling addiction to alcohol and meth. It was a tragic but familiar cycle: Sobriety followed by relapse that dragged him down again.
Last year, after crashing his van, Hubbard started serving more than 10 months in jail on a drug possession charge. When he got out in April of this year, he returned to Hope Station, where he had started a program just before he was locked up.
A Christian-based non-profit, Hope Station found Hubbard a job and gave him a place to stay. Most important, it gave his life meaning and direction. “They lifted me up in my spiritual walk,” Hubbard told me Thursday. “Hope Station is my family. They got me off the street. I don't know where I'd be without them.”
Hubbard has been clean and sober for more than a year. During the week, he's on the road with a Dallas-based construction crew. He's reestablishing a relationship with his seven-year-old son, Luke.
On Halloween, Hubbard, Luke, and Luke's mother went trick or treating together. “It was a blast,” he said.
For nearly five years, Hope Station has helped people rebuild their lives. With the community's support, it will expand those efforts.
For Palestine, that means not only providing volunteers and financial assistance but also backing Hope Station's growth, which will create a safer, better, and more productive community.
In moving people to independence and self-sufficiency, Hope Station touches up to 100 people a month in big and small ways. Sometimes, it's just allowing someone to use its showers or washers and dryers. Sometimes, it's a 24/7 program.
For people who are homeless or on the edge, Hope Station is the only game in town.
Hope Station also offers emergency shelter though hotel vouchers. If Hope Station can't provide the help people need, it drives them to a spot that can, such as Salvation Army in Tyler.
Greene has big plans for 25 acres the group bought off Airport Road, including so-called tiny homes and a multi-purpose activity center. He's starting with five mobile homes – 800 to 900 square feet – that are already set up. They need $80,000 for water hook-ups, landscaping, and few odds and ends to become real homes.
Green hopes to raise that money at a gala fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 9.
Having a decent place to live nourishes people's dignity and self-respect. On the inside, these mobile houses look like real homes, with cozy bedrooms, Oak cabinets, and gleaming new appliances.
After these one- and two-bedroom houses are finished next year, they will provide transitional housing for families who are homeless or the edge. They will occupy these homes for up to two years, while they get their lives together, work on any mental health or substance abuse issues, and save some paper to help start a new life.
It's easy to underestimate the reach of homelessness. Most people are not chronically homeless. A set-back may put them there for a day, a week, two months, or six months.
Palestine might have two dozen homeless people at any given time. But the number of local people who were homeless some time during the past year is probably closer to 200, or more.
Part of the long-term solution is assisting the addicted, mentally ill, and recently released from prison. Because few, if any, programs here address those needs, Hope Station has becomes even more vital to this community.
Brandon Greene and Hope Station are doing God's work. To continue working miracles, they need just a little help from us.