As colder weather approaches, volunteers in Ellis County are racing to winterize a homeless camp near Palmer off I-45. There is no permanent shelter for men in the county and the local homeless coalition is working to build one, while doing their best to provide temporary housing and hope.
“We try to make do with what we have,” said Camp Manager Jay Brunt.
Brunt was the first man to move to Restoration Camp and as manager, it is his job to keep things running smoothly.
Restoration Camp is a place where men who are homeless in Ellis County can find a tent, a meal, firewood and community.
“So we can eventually move out of this place. This is intended to be a temporary thing for upward mobility,” said Brunt.
Gerald Ace Elliott owns the property.
“It's God's land. And so I'm just a steward. So, to be a good steward, I need to share with people,” said Elliott.
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In the Spring, Elliott asked the Ellis County Homeless Coalition to support the men who started camping on his property.
“This is typically the first place they think to bring them to. And they work their way up. We help them with their benefits, IDs and get jobs and help them get back on their feet again,” said James Bell, president of the Ellis County Homeless Coalition.
Bell says there is no shelter for single men in the entire county and that counties across the state with populations below 200,000 are often in the same boat. The coalition is creating a five-year strategic plan to address homelessness in the county as part of a larger plan to qualify for federal grants. They hope to serve as a model for other small counties without shelters.
“It’s what gets me up in the morning,” said Bell. "It really is a big motivation to see God work through so many different people to help those individuals that need it the most.”
The ECHC is raising money to build permanent housing at the campsite.
“My hope is, that it restores a man back to where they have a feeling of self-worth,” said Elliott.
For now, they're working to winterize the camps and complete several projects including building platforms and a chicken coop, insulating the dining hall, and splitting enough wood to help the men make it through winter.
The Ellis County Homeless Coalition is inviting volunteers to donate supplies and their time Saturday, November 13 from 10 a.m. to dark and Sunday, November 14 from 2 until 5 p.m. at the camp 122 Pace Road in Palmer. They're asking interested volunteers to work and bring tools and supplies of nails, hammers, saws, drills and more. Learn more about the planned workday here.