CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In December 2020, Rising Tide Ministries received a grant from a private organization that allowed it to start the ‘A Way Home’ program. The program reunites homeless people with their families.
Lisa Gerdes, the director of Rising Tide Ministries, said the original goal was to help 24 people, but she thought that was going to be too high a number to realistically be able to help.
“People just found us, word got out, and we ended the year being able to assist 78 people to be reunited with their family,” she said. “They’re everywhere from California, to Michigan, to Wisconsin.”
The impact the program has had for those it’s helped is evident, like Jennifer, who left her home in North Carolina and ended up in Corpus Christi.
“I lost all my stuff when I arrived in Corpus Christi. I ended up on the streets for a night and a day, and I ended up in the hospital,” Jennifer said.
When she was released from the hospital, she had nowhere to go. She ended up on a bus, where she met someone who works at Rising Tide Ministries.
“I guess I really realized how bad things had gotten when I was on that bus with Michael, that, ‘oh my God. I’m on the streets, and I’m homeless, and this is crazy,'” she said.
Michael introduced Jennifer to Gerdes, who got in touch with her family, and put her on a bus back home. She said her cousin was waiting for her when she got off the bus.
“It was just really nice, everybody had been so worried about me. My uncle thought I had been human trafficked,” she said.
Jennifer said her mother was worried non-stop for her when she was in Texas.
Another mom who worried about her child was Becky. Becky’s son made his way to Corpus Christi as well, occasionally borrowing a stranger’s cell phone to check in. Becky said her son left home in the Midwest in November, and was homeless by December. She received a call from Gerdes on Christmas Eve.
“He was homeless, walking the streets, and eating, we have found now, garbage out of people’s trash cans for 24 days. I’m just so thankful they found him and they were willing to help him,” she said. “They saved his life, because he was going to die down there.”
Gerdes said it is fulfilling to help people get back to their families.
“I always put myself in their position. If it was one of my children that was missing, if it was one of my children on the streets, what would I want somebody to do for them?” she said.
Rising Tide Ministries is supported through the money brought in by its resale store. However, while Rising Tide Ministries applied for the grant they originally received to fund the program in 2021, they do not currently have the money to fund the program this year.
“Right now, we are still in the building phase, and having to replace some of the racks and stuff, so we don’t have our own funding that is able to do this program, so for now it is on pause,” Gerdes said. “For a couple-hundred dollars, we can get it started again, just depending on how many people contact us and where they want to go.”
Gerdes said donations can be made on the Rising Tide Ministries website, or by visiting the store, located at 9841 S. Padre Island Dr. in Flour Bluff.