Filipino Missionary Makes Fort Worth's Lancaster Ave. His New Mission

One man in Fort Worth is helping homeless people along Lancaster Ave. any way he can.

(Published Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018)

Fort Worth's Lancaster Avenue is lined with homeless camps and when the weather gets this cold, the city urges those folks to move inside. But not everyone chooses to stay in a shelter. Tuesday night, NBC5 rode along with one man who's helping anyone he can.

"We're entering Lancaster Avenue," said Salvador Cariaga, exiting I-35 on a route he knows by heart, because it's his heart that leads him there.

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"There are nooks and crannies that you wouldn't think somebody would live, there are people living in those places," said Cariaga. "I bring sleeping bags, tents, clothes, anything that the homeless people need."

On Tuesday he took it a step further, to bring the homeless in out of the cold.

"Welcome to our homeless mobile," Cariaga said to a couple as they loaded into his minivan.

Cariaga circles the streets looking for those in need, in a city and a country that's not his own.

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"I'm a missionary in the Philippines, I fight poverty and help break the cycle of dependency," he said.

While visiting family in Fort Worth, he decided to see Lancaster's homeless camps for himself.

"I got hooked,” said Cariaga. “I got to know some people and the people's lives drew me towards them."

Now he visits Lancaster nearly every day bringing small gestures that go a long way, like handing out cups of hot tea.

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"It just makes me feel very special,” said Joe Ray. “It lets me know that there are caring people in this world, still."

So caring, that Cariaga's mission doesn't end on the streets. On one of the coldest nights of the year, he's putting up a dozen men and women in hotel rooms.

"It's a blessing. It really is," said Susannah May, one of the women trading the frigid outdoors for warmth in body and spirit.

"That's what I like about Sal,” May said. “He gives people chances but he don't have to do it."

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He calls it a homeless retreat, complete with a guest speaker who urged the group to seize the new year as a fresh start.

"The great thing about a new year is that it's new."

And this new year is starting inside: four walls filled with promise.

"I believe that we should be missionaries wherever we are,” Cariaga said. “And let them know that somebody cares."

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For more information about Cariaga’s mission, visit: https://www.facebook.com/cariaga