Thanksgiving holds new meaning for East Texas shelter residents

As Longview shelters held their traditional Thanksgiving dinners for residents, the context of “thanks” and the meaning is much more complicated.
Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 10:45 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - While many East Texans are recovering from eating too much on Thanksgiving Day and spending time with relatives, for some the word “Thanksgiving” has a much different meaning.

Those trying to reclaim their lives in homeless shelters.

As Longview shelters held their traditional Thanksgiving dinners for residents, the context of “thanks” and the meaning is much more complicated.

“All the people in here and they’re broken. They’re so broken. And when they come in they’re hoping that someone will listen to them. These women didn’t have a place to go, we don’t have a place to go,” said “House of Hope’” resident Dorothy Barns.

For those who live in shelters, the meaning is more profound. A second chance. A chance to reclaim their lives.

For Jhamonte Milton, it’s not about family or food, but starting over clean.

At 23, he came to the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission.

“It was substance abuse, co-dependent abuse. A lot of things I needed help with. Helping me with a new life. We get this time to actually look back on our life and see where we messed up,” he says.

The reasons vary for people in this plight. Substance abuse, loss of a job, family tragedy among them.

“My husband died after over 40 years of marriage. And I didn’t know what to do. I lost everything,” Barns says.

“I was pregnant, had my baby here. We stayed here for a year and got on our feet. Now I have my own place and I’m and advocate here at the House of Hope,” says Alisha Childress.

For most of us Thanksgiving is about family, prosperity and health. But most will never know what it’s like to lose everything, and simply want to have a happy healthy life.

“Don’t give up. Because once you give up you’ve already lost the battle.

I’m happy for the second chance that I got and just so grateful,” Milton says.

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