Second chance shelter

Alexis Jennings

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






On a cold day, a woman only in her twenties, the prime time of her life, is sitting against a wall downtown shivering and hungry, wondering how she ended up like this. Her life was fine growing up, yet somehow everything changed rapidly, her old life seeming only like a wishful dream.

But on this day, she’s does not know what could happen to her the next day, week, or month. Meanwhile, people pass her by, ignoring her.

I didn’t want my kids to grow up thinking that the way they live is the way everyone lives,”

— FISD parent Renee Richmond

Stories like this are a harsh reality in the Dallas area with the homeless population of Dallas approaching 4,000, but the Austin Street Center hopes to help homeless people get these second chances.

Frisco resident, mother of three, and frequent volunteer Renee Richmond spends her time helping others as a way to show her family how others struggle.

“I didn’t want my kids to grow up thinking that the way they live is the way everyone lives,” Richmond said. “(The homeless are) part of the community and they are our neighbors, they are human beings and they all have a story and they all have a life, they are people just like us, they are no different than us. They have just had different things happen in their life to leave them where they are and that’s where we are.”

To help provide some entertainment, some members of the school's band volunteer   and play music at the Austin Street Center during the holidays.

provided by Renee Richmond
To help provide some entertainment, some members of the school’s band volunteer and play music at the Austin Street Center during the holidays.

Richmond has made it her mission over recent years to get the Frisco community involved with helping at the Austin Street Center. A large part of getting local students involved includes Richmond arranging fine arts students on campus to attend events at Austin Street.

“I had a great time at Austin Street last year for Christmas,” freshman Kapil Rampalli said. “It was fun to hang out with my friends, get volunteer hours, and help others.”

Richmond’s son Sam Mills, a freshman who frequently volunteers, enjoys giving his time to the Austin Street Center.

“I like participating at Austin Street because I like working with my friends and what I’m doing is good for a good cause,” Mills said. “It’s going towards people becoming economically stable and having adequate supplies for the future.”

Additionally, the Austin Street provides meals, food and other necessities for the homeless.

“We serve lunch two times a month, the second Saturday and last Sunday of every month, and we do care packs for the homeless, but we do those more for the people on the street rather than inside Austin Street,” Richmond said. “We put things that they can use on a regular basis like deodorant, soap, socks, foot cream, hats, gloves, those kinds of things and we put them in (bags) and we hand them out to people in the streets.”

From cots to food to support services, the Austin Street Center  in Dallas provides help for hundreds of people every day.

courtesy of Austin Street Center
From cots to food to support services, the Austin Street Center in Dallas provides help for hundreds of people every day.

Austin Street does an annual Christmas event which is a way to raise the spirits of the homeless during the holidays, and to get students involved.

“We are providing Christmas lunch for 500 people on Christmas day at noon and we are doing ham, green beans, potatoes, and rolls. We’re going to have a hot chocolate bar with marshmallows and candy canes,” Richmond said. “Some of the Liberty band members, and I think there are a couple of orchestra members, they are going play christmas songs and we are going to have people carolling. It should be a big event.”

To Richmond and others, the experience is worth the effort.

“We’re all the same and they need help,” Richmond said. “It’s more just having somebody that cares when no one seems to care about you and the biggest thing is that it will give you more than we can ever give them.”