Camp Victorious: If you bulld it, they will come ...

Published on Saturday, 24 May 2014 00:19 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

A group of Christians hope to put faith in action by building a transitional camp for the homeless.

“The homeless are still God’s children,” said John Walton, president and founder of Humanitarians of America, the organization creating Camp Victorious.

Camp Victorious is still in the fundraising stage. The hope is to buy a 33-acre plot of land on the outskirts of Tyler on Texas Highway 31 East. The group needs to raise $165,000 to purchase the property.

The vision is to build 12-by-12-by-10 homes for residents to live in, as well as tents. Then, Walton said, they will be taught basic life skills.

“It won’t be a place to just eat and sleep,” he said. “We hope to reintegrate people into society.”

The skills that will be taught are things like cooking, home cleaning, personal hygiene, nutrition, meal planning and financial management. Trade skills such as farming, welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and mechanical will be taught as well in the hopes that the residents can use them to get a job.

Ideally, residents would only need to stay a couple months, Walton said, but there’s not official time limit for how long they can stay.

“Some people grow faster than others,” he said. “Some can get back on their feet in two or three months, some may take six or nine months.”

Walton, who has been a Christian since he was 16, is no stranger to helping the homeless. He has been involved with Church Under a Bridge — a weekly church service held under a Tyler overpass for those who might not be comfortable in a traditional service — and helped many of the homeless move who were forced out of their tents a few months ago when they were discovered on private property owned by Union Pacific.

In the meantime, some of the homeless have been staying in the homes of kind acquaintances like Angie George, who is slated to be the camp supervisor.

“I got tired of people saying, ‘Let’s do something about (homelessness),’” she said. “My husband and I have been doing this for a while. … It’s better than them being outside or panhandling.”

Before taking in homeless and trying to help them overcome their issues, Mrs. George said she had no idea how difficult their challenges are, such as finding a job without any identification or address.

“There’s a lot of holes in the way society deals with the homeless,” she said.

Visit ilovehelping.org to donate to the cause.