Artist's rendering of the finished Haven for Hope campus. Courtesy of Haven for Hope.
South Texas Rotarians are helping Haven for Hope-founder Bill Greehey reinvent the way San Antonio, Texas, USA, helps the homeless.
Haven for Hope is a new 22-acre campus near downtown San Antonio, equipped to provide housing, food, and social and career services for homeless individuals and families.
"Other cities were doing a pretty good job of feeding and clothing [the homeless], but in most cases, no one was helping them transform to lead a self-sustaining life," explains Greehey, former CEO of San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp., who was tapped by Mayor Phil Hardberger to solve the city's homeless problem.
In addition to drug and alcohol counseling; medical, dental, and vision care; and Head Start classes for young children, Haven for Hope will offer job-readiness training and career counseling.
"That's where Rotary got involved," says Russ Rinklin Jr., publicity chairman of the Haven for Hope Committee and member of the Rotary Club of San Antonio.
Rinklin attended a presentation Greehey gave to the club about contributing to Haven for Hope's job-readiness program.
"We were absolutely moved by Bill's presentation. We wanted to do more than just give $100 here or $100 there," says Rinklin.
With the help of District 5840 Governor Jim E. Montgomery Jr., the San Antonio club helped spread the word to clubs throughout the district, giving presentations and distributing brochures and financial commitment forms. The club noted that if all members of the district gave just 41 cents per day, the district could raise the $1.24 million needed to create a job placement center.
South Texas Rotarians responded enthusiastically.
"A lot of people have already stepped up and given large amounts," says Rinklin. "We're well on our way to our goal."
Greehey, who became an honorary member of the San Antonio club earlier this year, says he became interested in the topic of homelessness after he saw a television program about the homeless in San Antonio. He says the stories of children living on the streets and families torn apart compelled him to approach Mayor Hardberger and offer his help.
After studying programs in cities like Phoenix, San Diego, and Miami, Greehey says he learned the most effective ones give the homeless the services they need all in one place.
"Rotary has just been absolutely outstanding," says Greehey. "They've really embraced this program."
Haven for Hope's mental illness rehabilitation and drug and alcohol detox center is already open. The rest of the US$80 million complex, which is funded by local and state government organizations and other private organizations and individuals, is expected to be finished and fully operational in 2009.