Most of us were not alive at the turn of the 20th Century, but it was a time of great beginnings. It was the time when Reverend Dennis R. Pevoto, a Baptist minister, having set sail for New York from Savannah, Georgia, had a dream that altered the course of his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from that point to this very day. He experienced a Divine vision in which he was being called to come to Houston to establish a refuge for Houston’s lost community of men—men who had fallen on hard times and never recovered, men who were alcoholic, helpless and hopeless with no place to go. It was to be named Star of Hope Mission.
By 1906 Reverend Pevoto had arrived in Houston and was making headway toward his vision. He met with other Baptist clergy and Evangelist Mordecai Ham. Together, they formed the first shelter for homeless men in the city, and Star of Hope Mission began its life-changing work on July 1, 1907, in a two-story building at 714 Franklin Street, with a former alcoholic named Richard Dowling appointed as the first director. Eventually Star of Hope was relocated to Congress Street and then to LaBranch Street, where it ministered to homeless men for 45 years, from 1955 to 2000.
It was during the period at the LaBranch location that homelessness took a turn. It was no longer reflective of the peculiar poverty of urban men. Suddenly, it began to take on a softer look, all too frequently, innocent and desperate, as women and children became the fastest growing population among the homeless. In fact, nationally, the average age of the homeless person is nine years old.
The latter part of the 20th century saw greater and greater numbers of frightened women and children entering the homeless scene. In response, Star of Hope opened the Women and Family Emergency Shelter in 1986 on North Main Street. The goal was to provide the love of Christ through a nurturing, safe environment that comforted and encouraged the most vulnerable among the homeless. Two years later, the Transitional Living Center opened on Calhoun Street, offering a year-long residential program for homeless women and families, to ensure that they could re-enter mainstream society fully equipped to be self-sufficient.
The Women and Family Emergency Shelter, in its second home at 419 Dowling Street, underwent a million dollar renovation to maximize the safety, comfort and care of its residents. In the spring of 2004, the June Waggoner House of Hope Day Care Center was opened on that site providing the very best in childcare and after school programs for more than 100 homeless youngsters and teens.
The Transitional Living Center, also in its second home at 6801 Ardmore was a custom-built complex. On the property was the Hope Center Administration Building serving the entire Star of Hope ministry. In addition, there were 111 single and family apartments, including service and program centers that target healthcare, childcare, education, employment, substance abuse recovery and life-skills management.
Located at 1811 Ruiz Street, is the home of the Doris and Carloss Morris Men’s Development Center, completed for occupancy in June of 2000. It was formerly the Men’s Emergency Shelter. In this 70,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility, God is at work renewing the hearts and minds of broken men, casting off the old and bringing forth new opportunities for physical, emotional, occupational and spiritual wholeness through programs and services similar to those at the Transitional Living Center.
Today, Star of Hope Mission is in its own stage of great beginnings. The Star of Hope’s Cornerstone Community® transformational campus, located on Reed Road at the intersection of Highway 288, now consolidates our clients and staff from our downtown Women and Family Emergency Shelter and the Transitional Living Center near the Texas Medical Center, at the Women and Family Development Center. The new site houses up to 160 homeless, single women and 130 homeless families where they will progress towards independent living through our basic recovery services and our longer-term programs. In addition, mental, physical and spiritual health services are offered with on-site permanent supportive housing and convenient public transportation, all in a walkable campus environment.
Thank you for supporting Star of Hope in its efforts to uplift our suffering neighbors, providing them with help and HOPE and freedom from the grip of despair.