BEAUMONT — Two people have distinguished themselves by caring for the homeless, and homeless vets with no thought to race or class. They are our featured sources as 12News this week shares stories of finding unity in Southeast Texas. Of course, no one doubts that racism remains in our culture. But there's also a story rarely told about good things in our world that show racial acceptance and understanding.
A lot of people are not focused on building bridges between the races because they do it every day with no consideration of skin color.
In an effort to show unity in Southeast Texas, 12News found two individuals coming together to solve a major issue in the world today. Dr. Lewis Harris and Lori Odom have the same mission. They are both trying with their whole hearts to alleviate the suffering of the homeless and there is suffering.
12News talked with many in the homeless community recently. Including "Randolph" who told us he just needed the confidence.
"Randolph" has been homeless since his release from prison a week ago, after serving 3 years and 10 months. He has only a few clothes in a backpack and no blanket as Beaumont's nights grow colder.
"I was kinda bad even before I went to prison as far as stealing," Randolph told us. "I always wanted something for nothing."
Well Randolph says he isn't like that anymore. We asked him what he actually owns and he said, "nothing. Self-will." He's paid his debt but one little white lady wants to be of service.
"They're all the same. They take care of each other. They got each other's backs. Black. White. Don't matter. On the streets, homeless is homeless," Lori Odom told us.
4 years ago, Lori and her daughter Geri started helping about 8 homeless persons. Now, post-Harvey, that number is 25 or 26. Many are veterans and there are more women than before among the homeless of Beaumont.
"It depresses you. But you have to go on," Lori said.
Lori takes her rapidly dwindling stockpile of blankets, snacks, socks, and hygiene products to the homeless - where they are. In this case a slab in Beaumont.
There are no real maps in the homeless "world” but if you ask around within the homeless community everyone will know about what people call "The Slab." There, race and class just make no difference. It is where Lori and her daughter deliver supplies.
"They are 100 percent thankful for anything they get," Lori says.
On the other side of Beaumont a Vietnam War vet shares the passion to sustain the homeless. Dr. Lewis Harris of the Beaumont Vet Center helped to organize a "Stand Down" event again this year that brought together more than 60 providers - to help the homeless and homeless vets.
"There's a need. People want to think there's not a need. Hey, there are some hurtin' people out there still from Harvey," said Lewis.
Again, with Lewis, skin color makes no difference. "Blue, green, orange, purple, whatever. If they are in need of assistance and are willing to accept assistance, that is what it’s all about."
Lewis has saved people by getting them into free detox services through the program. Hundreds come to the "Stand Down" event each year.
The culture may seem deeply racially divided but Lewis and Lori do not notice race. For them, daily life is about something much bigger.
“Do you see racism? No, not at all,” Odom said.
Contact Odom to help with any donations of blankets or other supplies by calling (409) 474-2206.