Haven for Hope

This homeless transformation campus in San Antonio, Texas is the model we are using to encourage Sacramento to replicate—see our Press Release—and this story from KSAT is a look at its founders and the years since.

An excerpt.

SAN ANTONIO – The scene was a dark downtown alley on a cold December night 10 years ago. In a primetime special, KSAT 12 News examined San Antonio’s homeless situation. We had no idea who would be watching or what might happen as a result of that special.

It turns out that for three people watching that night, the special would change their lives, and in turn change the lives of others.

“We weren’t doing anything to address the root cause or try and transform their lives, and that’s what I really got out of the special. And it really inspired me to say, ‘This is what I really want to do,'” said Bill Greehey, who at the time was retiring as Valero Energy’s CEO.

Ten years after that night, Greehey is still a business giant, has buildings named after him, but he calls the creation of the Haven For Hope the greatest part of his legacy.

“We have saved 6,500 lives already, and we’ll be having 500 to 600 graduates a year from Haven,” Greehey said.

“It was sort of a meeting of the karmas there,” former San Antonio City Councilwoman Patti Radle said.

Radle has worked with the homeless and near homeless since 1969. A San Antonio City councilwoman when the special ran, she was appointed to co-chair a city committee with Greehey.

“I thought it was important, because it really personalized the situation of the homeless. It wasn’t a statistic report,” Radle said.

“I’d gotten arrested on May 10, 2009, for the last charge, which was a drug felony, and realized, ‘I’m not really good at this,'” said Jason Gerstner, who turned his life around at Haven For Hope.

Ten years ago Gerstner was an admitted drug addict.

“If it hadn’t been aired at that segment, at that time, at that point in Mr. Greehey’s life, I may not be sitting here in front of you right now, or alive,” Gerstner said.

Watch the KSAT special that aired 10 years ago http://www.ksat.com/news/watch-the-other-san-antonio

Gerstner would become a resident at the Haven For Hope and eventually work and get married there. He, Greehey and Radle say things have changed dramatically since that night in December 2005, but there’s more work to do. Greehey points to a lack of affordable housing.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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