When Carole Smith became aware of the number of homeless individuals and families living in the Houston and surrounding areas, she knew she had to do something.
She began by volunteering with several organizations focused on homeless outreach, but in 2014 was inspired to launch Palmer House, a 501 c 3 non-profit organization designed to respond to the growing population of the “hidden homeless.”
“The Hidden Homeless” or “The Invisible Homeless” are those we don’t see under a bridge or in parks; they are people without a permanent place to stay so they live on someone’s couch, in someone’s extra room, a weekly motel, or worse, in their cars, shares Smith.
According to the Coalition for the Homeless, there are 3,626 homeless individuals in Houston, Harris County, and Fort Bend County on any given night, shared Smith. Nationwide, Texas is among five states that account for more than 50 percent of the homeless population, according to data compiled by HUD.
“We offer services that address basic needs, well-being, educational, and job training needs of our clients and the community,” said Smith of her nonprofit’s mission.
In addition to year-round outreach efforts, this year marks the third time the organization has given out Thanksgiving baskets to families in need and will be the second year that the organization provides Christmas food baskets.
Smith joined forces with CrossingPoint Church in Lake Olympia this year to provide a distribution point for Thanksgiving baskets which include a turkey and all of the holiday meal fixins. Additional sponsors who have assisted with this homeless outreach effort include Rookies Cookies, H-E-B, Randalls, Walmart, Fiesta and Foodarama.
In a short 3 years, Palmer House has already had an impact on the lives of many families.
“We started our holiday outreach in 2014 and have currently assisted 23 families totaling 118 individuals. Each year we are contacted by more and more families,” said Smith.
She credits her Dad for passing on his compassionate spirit as well as her own innate compassion to help others for laying the foundation for Palmer House.
“I live my life according to Matthew 25: 34-40. Knowing that I am obeying God’s command I am fulfilled,” said Smith.
Her greatest satisfaction is seeing the appreciation on the faces of the families she serves and the dedicated hearts of the volunteers that have joined forces with her to make a difference in the lives of others.
The organization provides unique ways for persons interested in helping the homeless population, including hosting a Home Fundraiser or Donating Your Birthday as well as the traditional methods of making a monetary donation and/or volunteering.
For additional information, visit www.PalmerHouseMinistry.org or e-mail PalmerHouseMinistry@gmail.com or call 281-435-6949.