By Amy Crowley | Published The Upbeat Reporter Spring 2023
That was the ask some 30 years ago.
One day, Cari Roach Good found herself sitting on a bench at Amarillo’s Ellwood Park. It was there a man approached her and asked for a mere thirty-seven cents. She didn’t have it. Good was simply sitting in the park with a sack lunch, looking for someone with whom to share. Not long before, she’d seen a homeless man sleeping under a tree in that same park and felt the Lord reminding her that “he is my beloved just as you are.”
When she inquired of the man in front of her as to why he needed the small amount of change, his response ultimately led to her lifetime of service. He simply needed $.37 to combine with his change in order to buy some food, and that was all Good needed to hear. She shared the sack lunch and in so doing, her journey of serving the homeless had begun.
In a different moment, another journey was just beginning. Mark Zimmerman was only nine years old when his father died. A devastating loss for any child, this was a particularly difficult time for Zimmerman and his family. Zimmerman’s father had been a preacher and did not make much money; once his father died, Zimmerman’s mom did the best she could as a single parent to make ends meet. However, times were tough and, more than once, the family came very close to homelessness.
Because of his childhood experiences, Zimmerman would do all he could to “move mountains” for the homeless community. His heart and passion are evident when he says “there are no insignificant people in the kingdom of God.”
His journey to serve the homeless has been in the making for a couple of years, and he is eager and ready to jump in with both feet.
Yet elsewhere - in Denver, Colorado, approximately ten years ago - Will Grant found himself in the intensive care unit of a hospital. Because of a drug overdose, his heart had stopped and he was on a ventilator, his life hanging in the balance.
The years of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as homelessness, had taken their toll. Grant fully expected to die in that Colorado hospital. Looking back, he puts it best when he says, “Why would a loving God chase me into the grave?” That’s precisely what God did, and Grant’s life now reflects God’s profound love. It was in that hospital bed where he experienced the very real presence of God.
As such, his journey to serve the homeless was just beginning.
Brought together by God, Cari Roach Good, Mark Zimmerman, and Will Grant are but three spokes in the wheel that are turning the direction of homeless services in Amarillo, with the formation of the innovative and unique Transformation Park.
The general idea behind Transformation Park is to provide cutting-edge, temporary housing to homeless individuals. Funding for this project is a collaborative effort of both public and private partnerships and the faith community. Truth be told, the plans for Transformation Park are really just the tip of the iceberg.
As president of the board of directors for Guyon Saunders Resource Center, Cari Roach Good has seen shortcomings in the services needed versus the services provided to Amarillo’s homeless community for years. Sadly, Amarillo has the highest homeless population per capita in the state of Texas.
With this in mind, Guyon Saunders Resource Center is beginning construction on a new facility – located at Fifth Avenue and Parker Street – and within 18-24 months, the center hopes to relocate to this new location. Likewise, Transformation Park, a separate not-for-profit organization, will be built across the street from the new resource center, with the same construction timeline. Additionally, the new transportation terminal being constructed by the City of Amarillo will be adjacent to Transformation Park, making this location both ideal and important as many individuals experiencing homelessness depend upon the services of public transportation.
Once the building of Transformation Park and the new Guyon Saunders Resource Center have been completed, the two entities will merge into one non-profit organization, operating as Transformation Park.
Because of a very generous gift from Joe and Laura Street, the new resource center will open under the name “Joe and Laura Street Day Center.” Mr. Street, who has worked with Guyon Saunders Resource Center for over 20 years says, “Mine and Laura’s philanthropy has primarily been to help the homeless in our community. We have always wanted to help, and this is a great chance to help a lot of homeless individuals in our community.” The impact the new center will have cannot be denied.
Thanks to another very generous, anonymous donation, the Center will be equipped with a full, state-of-the-art kitchen. This donation also includes enough funding to provide food and supplies for three hot meals a day for clientele of Transformation Park and the Center.
Mark Zimmerman, the new Executive Director for Transformation Park, lights up when describing the ministry’s boundless possibilities.
Transformation Park will include a cabin community of tiny homes: the design is still in process, but they will be small and sturdy, able to sleep from one to four individuals with provided security. For those with children, family units will be adjacent to the new center in a secure environment. The length of stay in the cabin community will depend upon the individual; so long as forward progress is being made, including no drug use, individuals are welcome to stay.
Additionally, a “safe space” night shelter will be provided 24/7. This space will accommodate police drop-off when necessary and is a low-barrier emergency shelter for individuals to sleep in a safe and secure environment with accommodation for their personal supplies and pets.
Executive Director for Guyon Saunders Resource Center, Will Grant, and Cari Roach Good, boast about the services to be provided in the forthcoming Joe and Laura Street Day Center: while restrooms will be located at Transformation Park, additional restrooms and shower facilities will be inside the Center, along with a dining area, laundry facilities, and classroom space as well as a family room and play area for children.
Another aspect of the collaborative effort will be the addition of office space for up to 35 City of Amarillo employees and others who serve the homeless population.
The plans here are big and the journey has been long, however, with Good, Zimmerman, and Grant at the helm, dreams are becoming reality. There is no doubt these three, as well as countless others, have been led by Jesus Christ in their quest to serve others.
When asked “why” they serve, Grant sums it up beautifully. He recalls praying about his service to the homeless with some reticence, unsure if he wanted to be near the homeless lifestyle again. In that moment, he felt the Lord say to him, “Where were you when I found you?” He is excited now about the possibility of helping others find the Lord just as he did years ago in a hospital room. He lights up now when talking about another idea that’s in the works - Transformation Church. With the help of area churches, Transformation Church will be held at Transformation Park, providing both a meal and the love of Christ to all who enter.
If you, too, hear the Lord saying, “Where were you when I found you?”, then reach out and help someone else find Him today by supporting the ministry of
To volunteer or make a financial or in-kind donation go to: www.guyonsaunders.org or
Watch the Upbeat and Beyond Video | Transformation Park