Kibodeaux’s dream becomes reality
By: Howell Dennis
Part one of a four part series
MAXIE - According to Rev. Roy Kibodeaux, it all comes naturally to him these days.
Kibodeaux, the founder of The Welcome House shelter in Acadia Parish, says he can relate to the problems of the hundreds (if not more) of people he has helped due to his past.
“I lived during the Depression and I know what it feels like to go hungry, to have to wait to eat because we didn’t have enough food for three meals,” he said.
Kibodeaux has been preaching since he was “eight or nine years old.” However, he didn’t give his life to Christ until he was 41. He also gave up his history of substance abuse that year.
“I was a drug addict,” said Kibodeaux. “I had an accident in 1963 where I was crushed between a truck and an iron beam and I was using painkillers and Valium. That was until I ended up praying really hard and went to a Pentecostal church where I gave my life to Christ.”
That was 37 years ago and Kibodeaux has been sober ever since. Equally as impressive is the fact that he also gave up a five pack a day smoking habit.
To hear how he got started helping the homeless and to consider how his mission has grown to where it is today is astonishing.
“The first family I helped out was a man and his family who moved into an old barn that our family had on our property,” he said. “He was a black man who just gotten out of prison. In those days there weren’t many people willing to help someone in his shoes.”
Eventually Kibodeaux began renting out a room at the old Rice Hotel in Crowley.
“The Sheriff’s Department would bring people by and I’d feed them, put them up for the night and let them go on their way,” he said.
Kibodeaux obviously had a warm, nostalgic feeling when looking back on the old days. His eyes light up with pride when he talks about how far his dream has come. The Welcome House now holds 50 people and recently opened up its new addition which was built from donations by the community. During Monday’s interview, Kibodeaux repeated thanked all the people and organizations involved in the effort.
“This has definitely been a team effort,” he said. “The Crowley Rotary Club came here on Thanksgiving to feed our residents this past year. Another time a man stopped by on Christmas and gave every resident a brand new coat...and they weren’t cheap coats.”
Residents of The Welcome House use glowing adjectives when describing the man they call ‘Brother Roy.’
“He’s a straight shooter who will help you out if you help yourself our,” said Nash, who works on Kibodeaux’s farm.
“Everything he does is to help people out,” said Van Valair, also a farm worker. “A lot of us never knew God until we met Brother Roy.”
Ienaise Kibodeaux married Roy four years ago. She also works with the shelter sending out their newsletters and cooking for the residents.
“People told me that he was a good man when I met him,” she said. “That turned out to be true.”
That Kibodeaux’s work is rewarding is apparent.
“Every night I go to bed knowing that I’ve fed, clothed and given a shelter to people,” he said emotionally. “It really feels good.”