In 2004, foster and adoptive parents as well as close friends, Sandra Carpenter and Deborah Zempel, had a desire to help families in Montgomery County, taking on the role of caring for young, neglected family members. These relatives, known as kinship families, are the lifeline to many foster children. These women gave of themselves, assisting fellow foster parents by providing for the ever-changing needs of the children and those families. With their faith and a garage full of supplies, they began helping kinship families by giving them support where it was needed most—clothing, supplies and food. Angel Reach had begun.
The nonprofit, Christian organization started humbly in a garage, but today, it has grown to assisting over 600 people in need of support each year. Jean Radach, Executive Director of Angel Reach, explains how she began with the organization: “I just felt God’s calling. These kids could have been me. They could have been my son.” As a third generation of adoption—her father being an adopted as a child, an adopted child herself and parent to her adopted son—she was inspired to give her time to Angel Reach. She began by becoming a volunteer driver, filling an enormous need for many clients who don’t have driver’s licenses or transportation. “These kids come from families who have rejected them. They’ve been with multiple families. We’re not just going to put them back on the streets. We’re going to find a program where they can hopefully flourish,” Radach says.
Charles Maurice, Board Chair for Angel Reach and consistent volunteer since 2011, has witnessed firsthand the challenges these young adults have had to overcome, as well as their stories that got them there. “These are good people who have been given a rotten deal. Once you see how hard many of them are working to change their lives, it’s difficult to walk away,” he says. Maurice is continually motivated by the staff and volunteers at this nonprofit and claims their passion was contagious from the beginning.
The Kinship Care Program, the original Angel Reach service, continues today and exists to support the kinship family in their caretaking responsibilities, and it provides food, clothing, furniture and additional resources like counseling and life skills. Assisting approximately 150 families each year who receive minimal support from the state of Texas, this program fills a desperate need.
In Montgomery County, 90–100 children are aging out of the foster program each year. Angel Reach steps in with the Transitional Living Program to bridge the gap with these young adults ages 18–24. Any child in the foster care system is allowed the opportunity to engage with this organization in order to transition to the next step of life. Their needs are met with housing, life skills training, counseling, employment guidance, educational advising, mentoring and character building. As they become emotionally stable and financially independent, they advance to increasing levels of the program.
With a mission to break the generational cycle of neglect and homelessness, Angel Reach serves the youth homeless population ages 16–24 through its Community Youth Outreach Program, which provides meals, clothing, a hot shower, safe housing and a computer for job searches. In partnership with United Way, the goal is to guide them towards productive lives with financial and emotional stability
The Angel’s Nest program began due to the desire to serve single moms in the community. Dedicated to supporting these moms, Angel Reach is able to give them a place of their own to raise their children while providing guidance in finding jobs, childcare and vocational or college training.
Before Roxy Wood began working on staff at Angel Reach, she was a client herself. Her story represents the potential that each young person can achieve when they fully engage with the services provided and put in the hard work necessary. “Not only has Angel Reach assisted me with my pursuit of a better future, but they were my mentors and guiding light in life for these past few years as I have struggled and fought my way back to a brighter future,” Wood says. She is paying it forward by assisting others make a plan for a positive future, helping them take small steps forward each day in the right direction. After graduating from Sam Houston State University, Wood is leading a successful life against all odds. She says, “I wanted nothing more than to gain my degree so that I could turn around and help individuals just like myself. Angel Reach is, in some cases, the last lifeline for at-risk youth being booted out of the foster care system.”
As a longtime volunteer, mentor and fundraising leader for Angel Reach, George Lindahl has been instrumental in its growth and the development of homes for its Transitional Living Program, which includes five homes and five apartments that house 30–35 clients in the Conroe area. “You can’t imagine. Think about growing up with no mom and dad, no grandparents, no siblings, never having a new pair of shoes or a birthday party. It’s hard to comprehend,” he says. Lindahl has personally mentored young men, and each year he has taken several of them on mission trips to Honduras, where they learn more about spiritual growth while helping others. “If you see this program, you will want to help. We’re changing lives, but it’s a tough ministry,” he says.
Angel Reach has grown to 30 staff members and more than 40 volunteers, by filling a dire need in Montgomery County for young people to be able to change their paths as young adults. Angel Reach has become that bridge from troubled youth to productive, stable young adults. “They need someone to believe in them. That’s what they need,” Radach says.
To volunteer or provide donations for Angel Reach, please visit angelreach.org