Doug McNeel and the Sons of Maverick gave a benefit concert at First Presbyterian Church San Antonio on September 19, 2010 for Haven for Hope, the remarkable transformational center for the homeless in San Antonio. Performing with Doug were Owen Duggan (the music minster of Christ Episcopal Church) providing banjo, rhythm guitar and background vocals; Gary Birdwell (the business administrator for Christ Episcopal Church) on lead guitar; Judson Taylor (the musical director for First Presbyterian’s contemporary worship service) on keyboard; Hank Harrison (of Tennessee Valley Authority fame) on mandolin and fiddle; and Brandon Rivas on upright bass.
First Presbyterian Church has a long history of helping to deal with the challenge of the homeless.
Dr. Louis Zbinden, the former senior pastor of FPC played an instrumental role in establishing in 1981 a homeless shelter at the church operated by a coalition of downtown churches. This pioneering effort gave rise to the establishment of the SAMM Shelter run by San Antonio Metropolitan Ministry, Inc. (SAMMinistries), an organization which has been continuously serving the homeless population in San Antonio since 1983.
In December of 2005 business and civic leader Bill Greehey, after watching a documentary on a local TV station regarding San Antonio’s homeless, contacted Mayor Phil Hardberger and offered his support to address the problem. With the assistance of Councilwoman Patti Radle and other local political and religious leaders and after 18 months of research evaluating over 200 homeless shelters, the vision of a transformational campus for the homeless served by a host of on-site social service organizations was born.
By April of 2010, the very first residents moved onto the new facility. Now Haven for Hope has the capacity to serve over 900 men, women and children residing within the campus while also providing a safe sleeping area for 700 more men and women in the adjoining Prospects Courtyard.
Committed to a recovery oriented system of care Haven for Hope provides residential facilities, educational opportunities, job training, life skills training, medical services, substance abuse help and mental health services. Of special significance is the fact that Haven for Hope, unlike most shelters, recognizes the central importance of spiritual renewal in the recovery process. Included within its umbrella is a spiritual services department which is focused on connecting its residents with faith communities interested in serving the spiritual needs of those recovering from the nightmare of homelessness.
Haven for Hope is a remarkable place and a remarkable community. If you are interested in learning more a good place to visit would be www.havenforhope.org. KSAT 12, the television station which ran the special in 2005 which inspired Bill Greehey, recently aired a piece commemorating the tenth anniversary of that documentary. That story and the original documentary can be viewed here.