AUSTIN — Non-profit A New Entry aims to help men and women who have fallen on hard times start fresh.
But now, the organization that helps others is asking for help itself to plan for the future.
Shawn Livingston is one of the people A New Entry has helped. He said the man he is today is very different than the one he was just a few years ago.
“I'd given a lot of my life, you know, to using drugs,” Livingston said.
After serving in the military, he found drugs, got into legal trouble, went to jail and eventually became homeless.
"I looked around, I was facing going back to prison and I didn't know what else to do,” Livingston said.
The VA referred him to A New Entry.
“It just gave me the time to kind of sit down and clear things out, and start fresh,” Livingston said.
It wasn’t like anything he’d done before. It wasn’t a 30-day program. This was six months to work on himself.
"I've been to a couple different treatment centers, and I was able to get something here that I wasn't able to receive anywhere else,” Livingston said.
“Somebody who's homeless, they may need chemical dependency treatment. A 30-day program’s not going to work for them because they also need to establish relationships, find housing, get connected in such a way that they can continue to move up,” Peter Daniels, A New Entry's founder, said.
Daniels started the organization almost 15 years ago.
“We ignite hope and hunger in these people to live fully alive,” Daniels said.
They help find housing and a new start for those struggling with addiction, homelessness or life after prison.
"It’s critical because these are some of the most disenfranchised individuals in our community,” Daniels said.
“For 10 years of my life, I’d done all this stuff, and so I wasn’t the same person I was 10 years ago. So, I needed to rediscover who I was, what my answers were ... what was I going to do with my life,” Livingston said.
According to Daniels, last year they helped about 350 men and women.
"Oftentimes, people coming into our program, oftentimes only have the clothes on their back,” Daniels said.
That's why they're asking for donations -- clothes, shoes, coats, anything people may need as they work to get on their feet.
They're also launching a new campaign, "Engaged 2000."
They’re looking for 2,000 people to give on average $20 a month to keep the program going.
Right now, they’re leasing two buildings. They want to buy a building, in hopes that they can help more people like Livingston.
"It just kind of ignited and brought back to life how I really am,” Livingston said.
The Livingston of today has a passion for running. He just finished a 100-mile race. He mentors at-risk kids and comes back to A New Entry hoping to help others find their fresh start.
“Addiction was something I suffered from, but it wasn’t who I truly was,” Livingston said.
If you want to donate items, you can drop them off at 1915 E MLK Jr. Blvd. Austin, TX 78702.
If you want to donate money, you can at their website here.