After missing a few months, “Parish People and Places” is back! On the second week of the month we feature a different person, local business or institution as a way for us to better know and pray for our city. If you have a person or place to recommend for this space, please let us know!
This month’s installment of Parish People and Places fits well with Christine Pohl’s definition of hospitality as extending kindness to strangers that is normally reserved for family and friends. I was challenged and encouraged by this remarkable little community in our midst.
This week I had the privilege of speaking with Tonya Harrison, the director of Fresh Start Care Facility on Gaston Place Dr. in Windsor Park. Fresh Start is a care facility for adults with mental disabilities, serving as a boarding home and community center for those transitioning from homelessness, prison, and other unstable situations. In addition to room and board, residents are connected with nursing and rehabilitative services. The one Fresh Start facility houses around 30 adults, some of whom stay for only a few months while others have been there for years.
Getting to talk with Tonya was a particular highlight as her own story of displacement and homelessness, a result of Hurricane Ike, is woven into her work with Fresh Start. Originally a resident at the home that became Fresh Start’s first facility, Tonya has an obvious heart for those she serves. This became especially apparent as she shared some success stories of helping residents find jobs or get connected with education opportunities. It was exciting to hear about her dreams of a community garden and basketball court in the backyard, and of a passenger van for taking residents on outings off-site.
When answering how we might pray for her and the work with Fresh Start, Tonya specifically asked for prayer for strength to complete the work. With her responsibilities for the home and its residents, including providing three meals a day, I can hardly imagine the work that this practical hospitality takes. Join me in praying for the Lord’s strengthening of Tonya in her work, providing her with everything she needs to be sustained in these tasks so that the residents at Fresh Start might flourish to the praise of Jesus’ name. Amen.