Former homeless Beaumont man feeding the homeless who are facing the cold
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding $88 million to homeless programs in Texas, and more than $150,000 of the funds will go to Beaumont.
Beaumont resident Eric Ardoin, who was once homeless himself, believes the funding is needed.
Ardoin now reaches our to the homeless.
KFDM/Fox 4's Angel San Juan introduces us to Ardoin's one-man ministry of hope.
"What you need brother?" Ardoin says while distributing items to a group of homeless people, hoping for blankets, heaters and other items to help them keep warm as a cold front pushes in.
"Take you a heater, yeah," Ardoin says to the man, as temperatures plunge and the wind chill expected to get down into the 20's.
"Yeah I got blankets, hang on," Ardoin says.
Ardoin is making sure the homeless men and women have the basics to survive.
"They get a tent, sleeping bag, they get a warm winter blanket, get a week's supply of food, they get hygiene items," he said.
Ardoin is a painter and carpenter and has been busy since Tropical Storm Harvey hit.
"I've got three rebuilds going on right now, actually in the process of getting to the end of them to watch these people lose absolutely everything they had and trying to get them back to a sense of normalcy and get them in their homes, it's been a journey," Ardoin said about working to repair homes damaged by Harvey.
Rebuilding houses is his job, but providing homes is his calling.
One homeless woman, Gloria Armijo, expressed her gratitude for the tent Ardoin provided to her.
"Ah, thank you, thank you. Hey this is home," said Armijo of Beaumont.
Even if it is only a tent, Armijo is grateful to have any kind of shelter.
"Now I got someplace to lay my head other than depending on other people, at least I know we can lay this down somewhere, and be ok and not in the elements. You know what I mean," she said.
Ardoin knows all too well what she means.
"I too was homeless at one time in my life," he said. "I got sober and got the opportunity to have a home today and a business, raising my daughter."
Ardoin also passes out other items like backpacks.
"Here you want a backpack, I got a brand new pink backpacks and we can fill it up with stuff right here," he said to one homeless female.
Ardoin left the streets after he got his life together, but he never left behind those who live on them.
"They're the forgotten ones, and so it's just been my plight to try to get the things that they need to survive during these rough times while they're out there," said Ardoin.
Ardoin began helping the homeless during Harvey because he was concerned about their safety.
He says the need for help is growing.
"Within the last three weeks, we started with three tents under the MLK and that number has tripled if not more than that," Ardoin said.
The demand to help meet the homeless basic needs is making his one-man mission a challenge, but it's a challenge that Ardoin is determined to meet.
"I'm out right now. I will get some more. I promise you," he said to one homeless who asked for an item that Ardoin had run-out of.
"It's heartwarming and heartbreaking, all at the same time," he said of being able to provide some help to the homeless. "Literally grabbing anything they can get like the desperation of drowning men and women."
But Ardoin is throwing them a lifeline of hope.
If you would like to help Ardoin with his mission, he says you can drop off items to his front porch at 2655 Harrison St. in Beaumont or call him at 499-7791.