At Work in Our Community

Stories about working with people, like you, in our community to help the homeless and others.


It was a cool, rainy day in April when customers repeatedly came into the local Walgreens store to report that a young man, wrapped in a blanket, was sitting outside the store asking for money.  Some customers complained to the manager that he shouldn’t be allowed to be there and needed to be removed.

The manager, Marc Owen, who has a heart for God’s people, went out to talk to the young man.  His name was Greg (changed to protect his privacy); he was 18 years old,  a high school graduate and was one month away from joining the Army.  Both of his parents (who had split up) had issues that prevented him from staying with them.  If that wasn’t sad enough, he also mentioned that he was hungry.

Marc, who had previously volunteered with the Ellis County Homeless Coalition (ECHC), knew just what to do! When Marc called the ECHC, our team went into action.  Our President, James Bell, went to Walgreens and met Greg, offering to take him to our tent encampment and thankfully, Greg was willing to go.

The ECHC also has an affiliation with Serenity Veterans Village, that provides transitional housing to homeless and at risk veterans.  Since Greg was planning to join the Army, James took him to meet Lauren Andrade, the founder of Serenity Veterans Village to see if she could assist him. Lauren provided shirts and food for Greg and also was able to house him for a few days in her RV,  which gave him warm shelter.  After a few days, Greg was able to reconnect with his dad prior to joining the Army.

Even though we helped for just a short time, it’s scary to think what could have happened to Greg if Marc had just “sent him on his way” to get him away from his store.  A big “thank you” to Marc, James and Lauren for showing love and caring to Greg – perhaps someday he’ll have a heart for helping others the way he was helped.

Homeless Man's Car Is Repaired with Everyone's Help

Shawn became homeless when his girlfriend asked him to leave because he was laid off from a security job during the pandemic and couldn't find new employment. It had been two months, and his car did not work so he could continue to seek a new job.

He contacted Ellis County Homeless Coalition for help. We were able to place him in a tent encampment and provided him with a tent, sleeping bag and food. During our assessment of his situation, we learned that he had commitments to help pay for repairs to his car

from several churches and Billie Wallace’s non-profit. And, his brother had a mobile auto repair business and was willing to work on his car to help him get on his feet since he had also experienced homelessness.

We helped him move his car to his brothers and covered some additional repair costs. We also provided transportation for an interview as a Correctional Officer at the Sanders Estes Unit in Venus.

He was hired! Also, he has since made up with his girlfriend and moved back home with a job and a repaired car.

Men's Tent Encampment

One of the disabled homeless men that Ellis County Homeless Coalition provided a hotel room during the freeze in February moved back into his truck where he had been living and sleeping at Waxahachie's and Ennis' Walmart parking lots for the last few years.

ECHC helped him when his truck broke down and moved him to a tent encampment for homeless men. It was started outside of Palmer on I-45 where we have provided shelter for more than a dozen men in the last several months. We have a homeless camp manager who oversees the camping site where ECHC provides tents, sleeping bags, water, propane for the covered cooking shed, firewood, and a refrigerator we keep stocked with donations area food pantries. There is also a portable toilet and solar shower.

Lately it has been a challenge for the men that have chosen to live there because of the incessant rains especially those without a vehicle. Ellis County truly needs to work together to provide a solution for men who find themselves homeless for a brief time or face more long-term challenges to get back on their feet. We hope this is temporary as we gain more community support to provide other alternatives.

*Did you know that on any given night you will find men, women and children sleeping in cars at any of the four Walmarts in Ellis County? We are so thankful that Walmart allows overnight sleeping in their parking lots. Otherwise, there would be many adults and children having to sleep in unsafe areas.

We try to stay aware of those homeless that are in their cars and receive help from Linda who has the Nomad with a Purpose Ministry. She prefers to sleep in her van and provides street outreach to the homeless and helps them find help when needed. Linda has recorded a video to help people survive in their vehicles. You can watch it HERE.

Ellis County needs a homeless shelter as well as a transitional home for men. Please join us in helping make this happen. *

Veteran Found Living in Storage Unit

Ellis County Homeless Coalition was contacted by a storage rental company in Ennis asking us for help with a homeless veteran who was living in one of their storage units. His car in which he had been living for almost two years had broken down and so he moved in with his belongings. We were able to store his things at Serenity Veterans Village and put him in the tent encampment until the Veterans Village could make room for him. Unfortunately, he was provided another car by his family and decided to live in ir with his dog.

He was found deceased from a heart attack in his car just before Memorial weekend.