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A Small Texas Town Makes a Big Difference
by Lee Warren (Farmersville Rotary Club)
The Samaritan Inn is Collin
County's only homeless shelter. They
focus on giving a hand up and not a hand out to their "residents." The residents go through rigorous programs
in an effort to get them back on their feet to be self-sufficient once
again. Those that "graduate" through
those programs are allowed to move into the Gateway Apartments, which are
residential apartments that were built through a number of donations and hard
work. It is a great way for the
residents to get into their own place, at reduced rent, and starting getting
their lives back to normal. By getting
utilities in their name, it helps them rebuild their credit history so that
they won't have to have such large security deposits when they go completely on
The Inn provides the apartment
and the major appliances. Other than
that, the place is empty. They rely on
sponsors to fill the apartment with the items that the residents will
need. Beds, furniture, linens, dishes,
desk, toiletries, cookware, televisions, alarms clocks, etc. The best part is that when the residents move
out on their own, they get to take all of the items with them. That way they don't have to start over and
buy things while they are going through the expense of moving. Once they move out, the process starts
again. The Farmersville Rotary Club is
proud to have sponsored 5 of these apartments thus far since they were
built. We get items donated from not
only our club members, but from others in the community. It has provided a great way for us to promote
Rotary in general to our local community and beyond.
The Farmersville Rotary Club has
also taken part in fundraising efforts to support the Inn. We have also sponsored dinner at the Inn,
where we not only pay for the meal, but we actually serve it to the residents
as well. It is one thing to send a check
and say we have done our part. It's a
complete different thing to physically get involved and see the faces of those
that you are helping. The vast majority
of those truly appreciate the efforts that are made. There are exceptions of course, but you can't
let that disenfranchise you from wanting to make a difference.
Many years ago, I was close to
being in need of a place like the Samaritan Inn. I was living in a 10x10 room with a community
bathroom down the hall for two years, had a couple of bags of clothes to my
name and was working 4 jobs to try and get back on my feet. To be able to be in a position where I am
able to give back makes all of that come full circle. To have a group like our Rotary Club of
like-minded community members to share in a common goal of making life better
for those around us only makes my drive stronger.
There are community projects and
needs like this all over the country. I
love that Rotary helps in areas all over the world. However, sometimes that vision can impede the
needs we have right in our own back yards.
There are so many organizations that need help. Not just monetary help either. Meals on Wheels (another of our Rotary
projects) is a great way to take just a little time out of your day to make it
so much brighter for others. It doesn't
cost anything. It doesn't require a lot
of physical strength. Just time.
There are so many organizations right in your
own towns that are in desperate need of assistance. If you are able to write a check to RI, or be
a sustaining member, then that is great.
I am proud to be a Paul Harris Fellow and current sustaining
member. However, sometimes the biggest difference
you can make on people's lives is not with your pen. It's with your hands and your heart. Don't
be a Rotary Club member. Be a Rotarian.
There's a difference.
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