Photos by Libby Rogers
- to make usable or functional again;
- to put together what has been torn or broken;
- to bring new life or energy.
Restoration can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, depending on the object in question. When a life is involved, every effort counts. Restoring a person to a place of dignity and honor not only provides stability and productivity for that person, but can help to re-establish relationships within the person’s circle of family and friends.
Welcome to Restore Texas Ministries, located in Huntsville, whose purpose is to provide opportunities for men to get a solid start in developing a good work ethic and to obtain the skills necessary for earning a good income. Developed by Monte Robinson, Associate Pastor of Fellowship of Huntsville Church, the idea was conceived over time as he witnessed the gap between people who needed help and the lack of tangible ways for that help to become reality. RTM is an independent ministry and does not operate in affiliation with a church or any other organization. During its four and a half years of existence, the program has helped dozens of men to become successful and productive members of their communities.
Kevin Webb serves as the Director of RTM with responsibilities which include the procuring of jobs, managing the budget, and overseeing the daily needs of the ten men currently enrolled in the program. Tim Jordan supervises the living quarters for the participants and provides training in several skilled areas, including welding. The seven-month program has served men from ages 18-65 and has produced some remarkable results. As Monte states, “We are about helping people. Any man who is 18 years or older and needs help “to get on his feet” is welcome to apply.” The application process involves the completion of appropriate paperwork, a background check, and an interview with Kevin to determine if the applicant and the program are a good match. Also, as Kevin remarks, “The person needs to be able to work a forty-hour week under the hot Texas sun!”
The ten participants live in the two dorms on the RTM property. A third dorm is under construction. Church attendance, Bible study, and character development classes are mandatory for all participants, with a zero-tolerance policy for absenteeism in place. For those who comply with the ministry requirements and put forth a hearty effort to meet their goals, the benefits available during the seven-month program are very rewarding. They include housing with all bills paid, the learning of a skill or trade, and at the completion of:
- FIVE MONTHS: $1,000 is credited to the participant’s account
- SIX MONTHS: A total of $2,000 is accrued on the participant’s account
- SEVEN MONTHS: A total of $4,500 is accrued on the participant’s account
- GRADUATION at the end of SEVEN MONTHS: a job which pays at least $12 per hour
All graduates to date have exited the program with a car, a housing situation in place (if needed), and a job. Assistance is also given with obtaining a driver’s license and a Social Security card, and legal help in various matters is provided pro bono for RTM participants by a Houston law firm. These incentives are in place to encourage the completion of the program and to ensure the participant has a good foundation for future success in all areas of life.
On-the-job training in wood and steel construction and welding are provided, and the participant’s success depends on both his capacity and his willingness to learn. There have been some remarkable results in the lives of many of the men. Let’s meet Joe and John, two successful RTM graduates.
Joe was living in a travel trailer with his grandmother and had very few skills or know-how on getting a job with which to support himself. When his mother moved into the small trailer, he had no option but to find a job and another place to live. He called Restore Texas Ministries, went through the application process, and was accepted into the program. Joe learned to weld, complied with all facets of the program, and upon graduation, started a job as a welder’s helper. Today, he is very gainfully employed as a welder and is the proud owner of a very nice truck, earned through his own efforts!
John could be the “poster child” for the success of Restore Texas Ministries. When he entered the program at 18 years of age, he was extremely lazy, had no work ethic, and was difficult to work with—not the positive role model that the others desired to be around! He then began to notice the nice things that people had, and he finally realized that to be successful and earn a good paycheck, he needed to change some bad attitudes and behaviors and actually WORK! He soon became a model employee: up every morning for his 5:30 cup of coffee, and “on his tools” by 7 a.m. Today he is a “sought after” employee, holds three jobs, two of them in ministry at two churches, and will soon be buying a house with cash! The 180-degree turnaround is due to RTM, God’s grace, and making the right choices!
Funding for Restore Texas Ministries is provided through the earnings of the participants as they work jobs throughout Huntsville and surrounding areas. Several local companies hire RTM participants on a regular basis and other work is procured from the needs of local citizens. Interior and exterior painting, carpentry and tile projects such as building decks and remodeling bathrooms and homes are but a few examples of the types of work provided. One recent project involved a home which had suffered severe tornado damage. The house was stripped down to the studs and remodeled to become a well-constructed and beautiful home again. Many other examples exist to showcase the quality work and attention to detail that go into each job. Fellowship of Huntsville Church, in need of new office space, hired RTM to construct its new building, which now stands completed as a fine example of RTM workmanship.
RTM participants have also been hired out for sheet metal fabrication, highway construction, and welding projects. In fact, with a certified welder on staff who knows all areas of welding, learning to weld has become a major emphasis in the program, and numerous welding jobs have been welcomed in recent months. Welding is a program feature which RTM is excited to see develop and grow. Graduates with this skill can be assured of good-paying job opportunities when leaving the program.
The RTM budget is also undergirded through donations from those aware of the ministry and who understand its benefit to the community and to the men involved. In many cases, these graduates go back to families, to wives and children who need the guidance, leadership, and financial support that this husband and father can now provide. The family is made whole again and, due to the church attendance, Bible study, and character development emphasis mandated in the RTM ministry, these men can now supply spiritual leadership to their families and bring glory to God as they honor and acknowledge all He has accomplished in their lives.
Restore Texas Ministries has become a role-model program, and the hope is it will be developed on a greater scale. Monte was approached by a man from Pennsylvania who, learning about this ministry, wanted to start one in their area. RTM shared the rules, regulations, and documents that have been developed to guide the ministry, enabling the successful opening of a program there. Today, that ministry is up and running. In fact, Armatus Reintegration Program is currently developing transitional housing for veterans, which will be modeled after Restore Texas Ministries. For more information on Armatus go to armatusveterans.org. May this concept continue to take hold and successful programs be developed in other areas of Texas and around the country. Both Restore Texas Ministries and Armatus are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.
“Training men in life and work” is the motto for this industrious and life-changing ministry that has benefitted many in our community. RTM welcomes your involvement by way of financial donation or providing jobs for their workers. Whether the job is large or small, please contact Kevin Webb so that an evaluation of your needs and RTM skills can be matched.