According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman, for the first time in a year, formerly homeless Jimmy Northen has a home, thanks to Austin orthodontist Barry Rouch, DDS, his staff, and patients, who raised $8,000 to buy a gently used 2002 small travel trailer through Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a social outreach ministry for homeless people.
"I feel so good to be able to lock a door and not sleep with one eye open," Northen said.
The trailer came stocked with dishes and some small appliances, but there were also plenty of presents and a 2-foot-tall Christmas tree, all provided by generous donors.
Northen’s dream of a place of his own was the result of a collaborative effort between Family Eldercare and Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Because Northen has a meager income from Social Security, he is able to pay for the lot rental.
Rouch led the effort to buy the trailer and then persuaded others to join in because he thought a larger community effort was more meaningful. His staff at Arboretum Orthodontics and Westlake Orthodontics set up "Jimmy Trees" with paper ornaments depicting his Christmas wishes. Kelly Shipps, the financial coordinator for the business, collected another $150 in gift cards and set up a tree at Grace Church of the Nazarene where her husband, Bob, is pastor. Members there donated $650 in cash and $100 more in gift cards.
"After reading about Jimmy, there was no way we could not do this," Rouch said. "A 13-year-old boy gave me $10 from his savings. You start something like this and it’s a bit scary, but you pray about it and things just happen. It was a community effort."
[Austin American-Statesman; December 26, 2007]