The Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter announced Saturday it will be increasing its ability to provide services by expanding the physical size of its space via major renovations on its current campus or the acquisition and renovation of another facility.

The improvements will include added bed space for women residents, air conditioning, classroom space and additional space for clothing and other items needed by clients to increase the efficiency of distributing needed items for those in the community seeking Shelter services.

The Shelter has introduced a Capital Campaign to help offset the costs of the planned renovations. The goal of the campaign is to raise $1.2 million -- a sum that will address the costs of renovations and help with increased operating costs for a bigger facility. The Shelter has $250,000 toward the planned costs through a generous bequest by a donor.

A building committee has been formed through the Board of Directors and the committee is thoroughly evaluating all available options and will move forward with the decision to renovate at the current facility or move by this summer. The committee is headed by John Delk, Board chairman–elect.

Jennifer Laurent is the Shelter's executive director. She said she is elated about the needed expansion and planned improvements.

“The air conditioning will make living conditions so much better for those seeking shelter and the added space will mean we won’t have to turn away people in need of a bed because of lack of space.”

The facility is an emergency shelter for adult men and women. It is the only completely free, 93-bed facility in an 85-mile-radius. In 2015 the Shelter provided more than 30,000 services to members of our community and more than 175 people moved from the Shelter into permanent housing. In the first quarter of 2016, 38 people moved from the Shelter into permanent housing.

The shelter is also home to the Be The Blessing Bakery. The bakery started as a cooking class for residents but now has expanded and is a vital way for the Shelter to teach residents important job-training skills.

The bakery's director, Cathy Brown Smith, said a new kitchen rack is coming in and the bakery needs new commercial-grade baking pans: 20 pans sized 18x26 and 20 half-size pans size 18x13 if the community would like to donate them.

The bakery also needs rubber floor mats and the resident bakers need rubber-soled shoes to wear as well.

The Randy Sams' Outreach Shelter, Inc., a 501c(3) organization, was developed as a product of a labor of love. Randy Sams was a local teenager who volunteered at the local Outreach Kitchen. In May 1993, Randy was tragically killed. In honor of their son, Randy's parents donated land and seed money to establish a shelter that would serve the Greater Texarkana community, hungry, poor, and homeless. The RSOS opened on January 6, 1996, and now averages between 75 and 80 guests per night. To date, the RSOS has transitioned over 1,100 clients to permanent housing from the RSOS and over 12,000 community clients have received utility assistance, rental assistance and food baskets.

The community can help by providing monetary support, or donations of food, clothing, hygiene and cleaning supplies as well as paper goods and towels, sheets and other household items. Many volunteer opportunities are available.

For more information or to volunteer please contact Jennifer Laurent the Executive Director at  the Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter at jenniferlaurent@cableone.net or call (903) 792-7024.