TEXARKANA, Texas — Individuals wind up at Randy Sams Outreach Shelter for a variety of reasons — some within their control, some beyond it. But second chances are what Randy Sams is all about.
Here are two recent examples:
Michael Hafner, 47, if from Longview, Texas where he was gainfully employed at Trinity Rail, in maintenance.
"Whatever broke, I fixed it," he said. "Things were going pretty well, no worries, decent pay, took lots for granted."
Until he got hit by a truck on Nov. 18, 2018. It shattered his left arm from the elbow down. It had to be surgically rebuilt. He couldn't work.
Hafner was also having a variety of relationship-related problems and substance abuse issues, and his fiance was addicted to opiates. As his life kept getting more complicated — and not in a good way — he decided it was time to get out.
"It was an unhealthy situation all around," he said. "I was dealing with my injuries, addiction issues, no home stability. It all piling up."
Suicidal thoughts brought him to the Regional Crisis Recovery Center. They, in turn, brought him to Randy Sams.
"Immediately, they took care of me," Hafner said. "They got me clothes, a place to stay, food to eat. When I found out about the bakery training program, I signed up."
He learned kitchen fundamentals and earned a food handling certificate.
"I found out I liked to cook, could make money that way," he said. "Eventually, I landed a job at Pecan Point. Things were going fine."
Then COVID came.
"My hours were reduced, to the point where I could not afford my place," Hafner said. "Jennifer (Lacefield) offered me a job at Randy Sams. I've decided to continue working for them. I like it here. Randy Sams saved my life and I think it is where the good Lord wants me."
It's hard to believe how things have changed in a year, Hafner said.
"I've started to handle my situation," he said. "Randy Sams helps me with accountability. This is the longest I've ever been sober."
Scott Hamm from Tyler, Texas, started out doing well in the restaurant business, moving to Texarkana to be the general manager for new taco chain, having previously operated in a similar capacity at a cafe in Tyler.
However, a felony DWI put him in jail on Jan. 1, 2019. It also cost him his job.
He went back to Tyler to live with his parents while awaiting trial. He worked as a server during this time. On March 2, 2019, he was sentenced to probation and "a type of rehab management," he said.
He never made in to the rehab program and spent another six months in confinement. And, of course, COVID-19 came along.
"When I finally got released from the Bi-State Annex Building, I headed to Randy Sams because I had nowhere else to go," Hamm said. "I had several DWIs under my belt. Because of that, my parents would not allow me to come back. I had to make it on my own."
Hamm was admitted to the shelter and got into the job training program. He helped run the front desk at the shelter and handled various related tasks.
"Through this I was able to learn to deal with a different clientele than I was previously used to in the restaurant business," he said.
It taught him to be more sensitive to people's needs in a different way and to better handle interactions with those who are experiencing mental health issues, as well as other struggles.
"This has given me a new skill set in problem resolution and dealing with people," Hamm said.
He is now working at Tyson's, and attending Celebrate Recovery meetings on Wednesday nights at Church on the Rock.
"Ron Glacier, a deacon at Church on the Rock, picks me and others up every week and takes us there and then brings us back to the shelter," Hamm said. "The spiritual aspect of these Recovery meetings have been helpful to me in focusing my mind and feeling more hopeful about my future."
Hamm is now saving money and working to buy a car. He wants to eventually return to the restaurant business.
"It is what I am good at doing, it is my passion," he said. "I'm tired of starting over in life and I know my daughter, Chloe (7), needs a father."
He says he is motivated to get his life back together for her.
"Randy Sams has given me a place to stay, food to eat, clothes on my back and extra services like the job training program which helped me get back on my feet," Hamm said. "I would be in a tent out in the woods if Randy Sams had not let me in and helped me."
Help for the Helper
Like many of their clients, Randy Sams also has dealt with challenges presented by COVID-19 this year, most especially in the fund raising department. They have not been able to hold their normal fundraisers this year and are facing a $50,000 shortfall by the end of December. They need financial support to continue this work at a high level.
They also need donations for their Thanksgiving lunch coming up in a few days.
"We need food and related items or monetary donations," said Lacefield, the executive director.
(For more information call 903-792-7024 or message Randy Sams Outreach Shelter on Facebook. The shelter is located at 402 Oak St.)