A Load Off, a Hand Up

Terry Saddler is a happy man. He and his family are settled down with a home and all the goods that go with it. He’s also begun planning to bring in a little extra income with lawn maintenance skills he picked up some years ago.

“Happy” and “settled” are not, however, words the Conroe, Texas, resident would have used to describe his family’s life a short four months ago. “We’ve been staying in hotels for 2 ½ years,” he explained. Their transition from living securely in a rental home to joining the ranks of the homeless came fast and without notice. The rental’s owners “sold it out from under us,” Terry said, leaving him, his wife, Frances, and their two boys, Noah, 6, and T.J., 7, to live a hit or miss lifestyle that demanded every dime Terry could squeeze from his social security. They managed to keep the boys in school, but all the little details of living that most families take for granted became a challenge to overcome.

One day, another homeless man they had befriended told them about Volunteers of America Texas, which has an office in Conroe. “We needed to get the oldest boy some shoes,” Terry said. “So, sure enough, we showed up on their doorstep, hanging around outside the building.”

They didn’t have to hang long. The Conroe location just happens to have a Permanent Supportive Housing program designed for the likes of the Saddler family. Tim Lloyd, the program case manager, noted that in one way or another, many of the Conroe office staff became part of the family’s story. “Everyone wanted to help the Saddlers, and everyone was eager for them to no longer be homeless,” Lloyd said.

The VOA Texas office pulled together all its resources, finding a refurbished, air-conditioned home. CORT Furniture became a partner in the project, providing a houseful of furniture and a “welcome home” basket that had all the household items anyone could want—from bedding to pots and pans and everything in between. They were set up to settle in. Homeless was not a word that described them anymore.

“By the grace of God, I’m not staying up all night watching over the boys,” Terry said. “It’s a big load off me. I see me getting myself a neighborhood lawn service; I’ve done that in the past. And I won’t have to spend every dime of social security to pay for hotels.”

In addition to thanks to God, Terry has kind words for VOA Texas. ‘I give them a straight A-plus,” he said. “I don’t know where they come from, but they are helping a lot of people. It is a blessing to have people reach out like that.”

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