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No one was hit. No one was killed. But any idea that the Star of Hope Women and Family Emergency Shelter could be a completely safe haven from the world's violence had gone the way of the shattered glass.
"The openness and the high visibility of things were so people wouldn't have the feeling of being in an institution," says Marilyn Fountain, Star of Hope spokeswoman. "It's a sad irony that this event is going to create a different visual here."
She is concerned about the wife who was the intended target. She is also concerned about the "troubled" husband who surrendered at a local psychiatric center.
You see, Corey Harrell Cruise knew how to reach his estranged wife, knew the layout of the land, because he was a Star of Hope client, too. He lived there.
The number of homeless is growing. When Star of Hope started with its men's facility in 1907, Fountain says, "We didn't have women on the street. We didn't have women being abandoned." But by the mid-1980s, women and their children were showing up in increasing numbers asking for help at the men's shelter, she says. Also at that time the Houston media was giving a lot of coverage to the tent cities that sprang up around town. It was sort of a romantic image -- people cooking out around a campfire, braving the elements just like the early pioneers. The early romanticism, the "Us against the System" ethos shortly devolved into something uglier, weighed down by the mountains of garbage that started piling up and the picture of raggedy people facing winter in the Houston elements.
That's when Star of Hope decided to expand its mission. It opened the women's shelter in 1989. And found a somewhat different clientele.
A man or family that falls on hard times usually comes to a shelter with some possessions, Fountain says. But abused women come in with the clothes on their backs, with their children, and little else.
For children and especially teenagers, the stigma attached to shelters can be overwhelming. How'd you like your prom date to pick you up at the homeless shelter? Most kids, Fountain says, never invite friends over.
But there are pluses for children. They are getting fed. They are clothed and warm. Star of Hope works with families to get the kids enrolled in school immediately. It gets them school uniforms and new backpacks, so no one can look at them in school and immediately say hey, there's a homeless kid. They don't have to worry where they're sleeping the next night. And there are sometimes extensions beyond the 30-day limit. In cases of abuse, that danger has been removed. They receive medical care. They get counseling. For those who welcome it, the Christian framework offers comfort and definition to chaotic lives. Lives become less desperate. They can survive. And there are success stories.
Most people think the average homeless person is a man in his twenties or thirties, Fountain says. "The reality is the average homeless person is a child, nine years of age."
For some even the security of a clean place to stay and food can't make up for the fact that they must go to their rooms at 10 p.m. Some can't accept the ubiquitous messages of Christianity in places like Star of Hope. Still, Star of Hope doesn't go out recruiting clients. The people come to it.
Qualifying for one of Star of Hope's two emergency shelters isn't tough. "You can come in right off the street and declare your crisis, and we'll see to your needs," Fountain says.
She calls the shooting break-in an isolated incident, but hurries to say that in no way does that mean shelter officials are taking it lightly. "We live in times that catch us by surprise in terms of the way people behave and express their emotions."