Amarillo has a consistent homeless population. Agencies that track and help provide services like the Salvation Army will tell you the need is there.
On any given day, 521 people are in shelters. Another hundred or so are spending the night on the street or in cars.
If you ask Valerie Gooch with the Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center (PARC) about Amarillo’s homeless, she’ll tell you it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the people.
“I don’t want people to look out and see a homeless person,” says Gooch. “I want people to look out and see a person.”
Max knows what it’s like to be homeless in Amarillo. For him, homelessness started with a misstep, “I just fell off a real high porch. My coat got caught on the back door. I tripped and broke my ankle.”
Max could not walk or work.
“I had no other place to go because I wasn’t working and had no way of income. So I went around scouting a place to stay and I ended up at the Salvation Army.”
It was during that stay that Max found his way to the PARC.
“I came over here. It’s peace and serenity. This place was my salvation.”
The PARC is now open weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Gooch says there is more to PARC than just programs, classes and activities.
“It’s their salvation because they find themselves again. They remember they have value, that they are a person and they become aware there are possibilities.”
Max found a purpose and an inner voice that gave him hope.
“I just told myself, I’m just never going to give up. This is not my home. I will get out of here.”
Most of the people who come to the PARC, including Max, use it as a stepping stone. Something Gooch says is encouraged, “The reason doesn’t matter. The point is that they’re without a home right now and they’re wanting to move forward and that’s what we are here for, to accept them where they are and help them move to the next.”
Max has moved on and moved up. After spending 14 months at the Salvation Army, Max found his next; an apartment, a new beginning, and a grateful heart.
“A couple of weekends ago it was very cold out there and I’d look out my window. I’m so thankful I’m not out there anymore.”