The Faith of Alan Graham

For Alan Graham, it’s never been complicated: Homeless people need a safe, supportive place to live, and if they suffer from addiction or mental illness, they need that place to live before they can get healthy.

Actually, Alan would probably say it’s even easier than that: Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, so you do unto me.”

This week, Alan and his team at Mobile Loaves and Fishes won a tremendous victory in their years-long work to build “Community First,” a community of mobile homes and support services for homeless adults. So many Austin neighborhoods have turned them away, saying they don’t want “those” people living in their neighborhood. It’s been disheartening, and that makes this victory extra sweet.

I’ve seen, met and interviewed SO MANY of the people Alan has helped – by first giving them a safe, humane place to live and then helping them get their lives together and giving them a network of support.

12 Baskets Cover April 2010A few years ago, we used to put out a magazine for MLF called 12 Baskets. No other work has meant so much to me – even GC – because it forced me into the lives of several formerly homeless people rescued by MLF. Each of those issues represents MLF’s work, but you should also know that it represents the heroic lives of MLF’s clients. And I have to say, my contributors and I cried a lot making those magazines, overwhelmed by the tremendous obstacles MLF clients face and overcome every day. We made those magazine pro bono for MLF, but really it was the other way around — they were a gift from Alan to me.

Here’s the thing: Other nonprofit people, even those whose work helps homeless people… they just don’t know what to think of him. Is Alan a nonprofit leader? Is he a man of faith? …does it matter? He is a decisive, compassionate, inspiring and relentless leader who talks about Jesus like he knows him. And who never gives up – even if it takes almost a decade, even if thousands of Austinites have told him and his people to go away. Alan gets shit done.

Here’s the other thing: You can help. MLF needs to raise $2 million more of the $8 million they need for this project. And every donation helps. Imagine your donation going toward a safe, supportive home for Austin homeless people.

Imagine that person sleeping in a bed, their things around them, a roof over their head and a door that locks. Can you imagine how well that person would rest? The relief? After years of even decades of living on the streets, what does it feel like to go to bed that first night in your own home?

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3 Comments on The Faith of Alan Graham

  1. My boyfriend and I were homeless and camped on the grounds in East Austin…. that land was denied to MLF because the neighborhood came aganist it. We entered the Community First! program in 2009, and started in an RV. With hard work and dedication, we were able to use the program as a stepping stone. In 2013, we moved into our beautiful home in South Austin… the place where our beautiful daughter will be raised. Mobile Loaves and Fishes helped us to achieve our goals. This is such a beautiful gift that Alan has accepted from God!! With Alan as His vessel… and Alan”s love and compassion for the homeless this mission to help the homeless attain housing became a reality. It’s allowing them a chance to live again, an actual chance at life. Much love to Alan and Trisha… they have fought so hard to make this happen!!! Once you have been homeless the term, home sweet home takes on a whole new meaning. So delighted that our friends on the streets will have the same opportunity to understand that meaning.

  2. In 2007 Alan and a group of volunteers stopped by the corner of Woodward and I-35 to offer to several of the homeless inhabitants from the wooded area close by “something to eat, drink, hygiene items, and donated clothing”. As one of those homeless individuals, I accepted their kindness with gratitude. Alan asked my reason for “living on the streets”, and I replied – I was homeless because I was an addict, I had no one to turn to for help, and until I could find a place to live and get well from my addiction I would not be able to work. Compassionately Alan agreed, I needed to get sober to be able to hold a job, and a place to give as a home address would increase my chances of stable employment. Understand, at one point in my life I worked as a respected Construction Engineer during the boom of the 80’s and 90’s. But addiction had me feeling self pity and worthless. Less than two years later, Alan had visited “my corner” several times and he introduced me to two volunteers who said they understood my situation because ‘someone close to them’ had suffered much the same. These volunteers gave me a personal phone number telling me if I ever needed anything to call. After a frightening episode caused by the chronic disease of Hepatitis C I called and left a voicemail with those volunteers. Later that afternoon they drove up in a personal vehicle and told me they had a bed reserved for me in treatment. I accepted that day, and the next morning of October 31, 2008 I entered treatment. Shortly after treatment I moved into a Community First! trailer and was employed for three and one-half years, before I took a new position. Today I work with others, like I was, at a treatment facility and have remained clean and sober for over 4 yrs. and 9 month continuous after a 25 yr. opiate addiction. I prayed the night before I called those volunteers for my God to help me. I believe He did, with angels in Alan & Tricia Graham and those volunteers, David Shiflet and Kay Dalton. ~ gary m. … grateful recovering heroin addict and a resident of Community First!

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