Homeless Awareness Week starts March 20
By: Howell Dennis
MAXIE - Next week, March 20 - 27, has been designated as Homeless Awareness Week. In 2010, the Acadia Parish Police Jury declared that the second week of Lent would be used to bring recognition to the plight of the homeless throughout the parish.
At The Welcome House shelter in Crowley, the Community Outreach Program and the Crowley Rotary Club have recently completed the new 50-bed shelter for women, men, single parent families and whole families. Rev. Roy Kibodeaux began the Welcome House operations 36 years ago as an outreach of the Maxie Gospel Tabernacle Church. To this day he continues his ministry to homeless individuals.
During several recent interviews with the shelter’s residents, many of them view Kibodeaux as a father figure who helped them when nobody else would give them a chance. Some residents, who have had the opportunity to move elsewhere, have such strong feelings toward Kibodeaux and the shelter that they chose to remain and help to ‘finish the work they started.’
Last August, a survey of 44 residents revealed that they were from six states and six south Louisiana parishes. It’s estimated that over 120 individuals are homeless in Acadia Parish at any given time. Last year over 49,600 meals were served to residents of The Welcome House.
Residents of The Welcome House have mental health illnesses, addiction disorders or have simply fallen on hard times due to the current recession. In 2010, several residents were transported to and from doctor’s and business appointments, the Addictive Disorders Clinic, Crowley Mental Health Clinic and NA meetings at Summerwood Nursing Home. The shelter also offers Alcohol Anonymous meetings and church services.
Among the participants in Homeless Awareness Week are area churches, Rotary youth groups and 4-H clubs. Activities include special prayers and offerings, poster competitions and financial donations. Donations of food, canned goods, detergent, toiletries and cleaning materials are welcomed gifts. Individuals can also donate livestock or garden supplies which may be used at the shelter’s farm which is located on Kibodeaux’s property. Financial gifts also help to pay for the rising cost of gasoline and utilities.
The Welcome House is located at 24292 Crowley/Eunice Highway (La. 13) and can be reached at (337) 783-7066.
The Crowley Post-Signal will be running a four-part series beginning next Tuesday on The Welcome House and its residents.