Thirteen years ago, a man named Alan Graham, who founded an incredible nonprofit called Mobile Loaves & Fishes, walked me deep into the woods of East Austin late on a Tuesday night and forever changed my world. Never in my life had I been more warmly embraced by a group of caring men—men just like those at the Camp. As with David Adams in An Equal Justice, this late night experience changed everything for me. Since then, my wife and I have felt so privileged to serve our brothers and sisters on the streets.
I’m thrilled to tell you that Benny’s fictional dream of creating a village for the boys in An Equal Justice has become a true-to-life reality here in Austin. We call it Community First! Village, a fifty-one-acre master-planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless. It has been the thrill of my life to have helped birth this village dream into existence.
Already home to nearly 200 formerly homeless men and women, this transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.
Community First! Village is a place that enables our homeless brothers and sisters to heal. It’s a place where they can rediscover hope, renew their purpose and restore their dignity. Most importantly, it’s a place they can call home.
Here are some of the incredible features of Community First! Village:
- Organic gardens
- Art studio
- Blacksmith and woodworking shop
- Outdoor movie theater
- Medical facility
- Laundry/restroom/shower facilities
- Community kitchens
- Memorial garden and prayer labrynth
- Capital Metro bus stop
- Walking trails
- Meeting spaces for worship, study and fellowship
- Community Market
- Community Inn bed & breakfast
- Outdoor WiFi