For over two decades, Sheila Swirczynski has been serving the homeless and mentally disabled population of Houston, a passion borne out of her own family’s history of mental illness. “I could work with people with mental illness all day long. When it comes to them, I feel like they have nobody to advocate for them,” she says. And that’s exactly what she’s doing. Swirczynski and her mother started Love & Joy Personal Care Center 18 years ago, an organization that houses homeless men and women who suffer from mental illness. It’s the only facility of its kind in the Houston area. Not only do clients receive clothes, meals, and beds, but Love and Joy also provides on-site therapists and psychologists, and transportation to and from doctor’s appointments.
Five years ago, Swirczynski received a loan to begin building a brand new facility for the organization, a dream she thought was finally coming to fruition. The building would allow them to provide services to 140 more people, in addition to the 100 they already served. But when construction was close to completion, the new facility burned to the ground in a fire, leaving Swirczynski with a huge note and an empty slab.
The cause of the fire remains unknown. Since then, Love & Joy Ministries has been determined to raise the money necessary to rebuild. For Sheila, this is personal. The people she assists are like family, some of whom have been with her at Love & Joy for over 15 years. Many of her residents have no one else to care for them and nowhere else to stay. “It’s a horrible story. When you put forth all your energy, your years, your hard work, and then it burns down before your eyes. I’m just telling you, it’s unbelievable. Something I don’t wish on anyone. “We need facilities like this,” she explains, “We have the support systems in place. We just lack the resources we need to function and operate on a day to day basis.”
Recently, the ministry launched a text-to-give campaign in an effort to raise funds, but they still have a long way to go. If you are interested in helping out Love & Joy, here are just a few ways:
Sign up to sponsor a resident (call 713-733-6900)
Mail a donation to PO BOX 330344 Houston, TX 77233
Text “GIVE” to 832-430-3185