OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) – The Refinery Mission provides homeless men across Louisiana a second chance at life from their base of operations in Opelousas. The non-profit’s name is based on crude oil which isn’t seen as useful until it has been refined.
“This is a place of hope,” described Andy West, a staff member of The Refinery Mission. He’s lived as a resident of the site for about a year. Almost 500 men, including himself, were given emergency or transitional housing in 2019.
According to West, it is a service impossible without local support. Many residents come from parole, rehab, or homelessness. “Their donations are keeping people alive literally.”
Along with a bed, Refinery Mission provides meals, clothes, transportation to work, and even spiritual training, so each person can learn to support himself.
Steven Barnes came through the program in 2015, and now he is the program director.
“A lot of times men will come here without a job, sometimes with just the clothes on their back, and to be able to see a man come here and get healthy physically and spiritually, and then be able to get a job, then get checking out, then see them get a car afterward, and then obviously be able to move out on their own, it’s always a reward,” stated Barnes.
In recent years the facility has grown, now housing 75 men at a time from across Louisiana and beyond. The staff, volunteers, and residents are asking for recurring donors to keep the lights on, cars fueled, and men fed so they can regain control of their lives.
Before the Refinery Mission West remembered, “I was just an angry person all the time.” West said the year he’s had has helped him regain much of what he’s lost, “I have a daughter who I love greatly. I just…get choked up when I…I don’t get to see her enough.”
In each bed and above every plate is a new person, like West or Barnes, made possible through your help.
“That’s been very rewarding for me to be a part of, and to able witness how his (West’s) daughter and him have been able to draw closer together, and it’s through the Refinery I think that he’s had that chance,” said Barnes.
“She’s my life. I hung around because of her,” West admitted.” Because I was really going to check out for a while, and this mission has saved me. God has saved me through the mission.”
The refinery could accept food, clothing, hygiene donations, and more, but their current giving priority is to partner with monthly donors. You can give one time or monthly by going to the refinerymission.org.
The companies who accept these men to work are also a big part of the mission’s success, so if your business is interested in hiring, you can also reach out.