Katie Besly is the development director for Metro Relief, an organization based in The Colony that helps homeless people in the North Texas area. Below, Besly talks about the organization’s mission, how she joined Metro Relief and how it has helped those in need across the Metroplex.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Dallas, attending Lake Highlands High School before moving on to Texas A&M for undergraduate work and UNT for graduate school.
What is your role with Metro Relief?
I am Metro Relief’s development director, which means I have the privilege of caring for our donor relationships.
How did you become involved in Metro Relief?
Metro Relief was a part of my family’s life for many years before I was asked to join the staff. Prior to taking a position here, I was on staff at the local church that helped launch Metro Relief eight years ago. That congregation maintained close ties with the nonprofit for many years, so the transition from one ministry to the other was a natural one.
Is there a person's story that has been particularly touching to you?
So many of our stories from the streets are touching that it’s difficult to choose just one. Our homeless friends truly are our heroes. One story does stand out for me in my role as development director, though. Every month, Metro Relief receives a $15 donation from Evelyn in Colorado. She is one of our more “silent” partners. She isn’t able to volunteer on the bus, she doesn’t stop by the office, and she is rarely available to chat on the phone. Evelyn is, however, very committed to supporting Metro Relief and our weekly bus outreaches to the homeless. She’s been a part of our mission for years.
We first met Evelyn several years ago in Fort Worth where she was living on the streets. Her story was a familiar one. She got caught in a financial bind, and her life unraveled. Though she was struggling in the Metroplex, she had family in Colorado who could help her get back on her feet if she could secure transportation back home. Metro Relief was able to step in, provide temporary shelter and pay her travel costs to get back home. Evelyn’s family helped her step back into independent living quickly, and when the dust settled in her life, she became one of our most committed supporters.
What has Metro Relief taught you about homelessness?
People assume that getting off the streets should be fairly easy. Go to a shelter. Get a job. Pull your life together. The reality is, homeless people face a variety of complicated challenges that can be exceedingly difficult to navigate.
For instance, critical documents, like ID cards, social security cards, and birth certificates, are commonly stolen from homeless people by others on the streets. Replacing them is highly problematic. Imagine waking up with no documentation to prove your identity. How do you get those documents replaced? Each critical document requires the verification of the others in order to be replaced. Without these critical documents, you cannot stay in most shelters, access social services or gain employment. How do you begin the process of replacing them with no ability to research the process online and no transportation to get to the needed offices? Where would you get the documents sent if you have no physical address? Obstacles like this mount quickly for our homeless friends.
Describe a typical trip to serve the homeless.
The Metro Relief Bus, our mobile resource unit, goes into the inner cities of Fort Worth and Dallas twice every week, on Fridays and Saturdays respectively. We can take up to 16 volunteers on each outreach. Our volunteers gather at our headquarters in The Colony at 8:30 a.m. on outreach mornings to begin prepping the bus for the day. They cook fresh soup in our commercial kitchen, assemble hygiene kits, and pack up pairs of new socks. Once this is complete, the team heads for the inner city. The bus can park right alongside homeless encampments to serve meals and distribute hygiene kits and socks. The Metro Relief staff is on hand to provide for the social work needs of the people we meet. By 1 p.m., the bus is back on the road, heading for home. By 2:30 p.m., the bus is completely unloaded and our volunteers have wrapped up for the day.
Are you involved with any other organizations in the area?
I’m on the Board of Directors for The Colony Chamber of Commerce. My family also owns and operates Novel Therapy, a counseling practice for adults, adolescents and kids.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time with family and friends most of all.
What's your favorite TV show?
Right now, I’m watching “Peaky Blinders” on Netflix.
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Vance Joy’s work.