By Hannah Gerken
Author Ron Hall’s “Same Kind of Different As Me,” tells about his encounter with homelessness. It is the story of Hall, an international art dealer, and Denver, an uneducated sharecropper from Louisiana. It describes how their paths crossed and how they were able to become the best of friends. This book has helped build a bridge of acceptance and awareness about homelessness, including in Bryan College Station.
In October, Twin City Mission will join with Hall to celebrate the movie adaptation of his book. The first of two events is a Tuesday, Oct. 3, dinner at 6pm featuring Hall and speaker Ryan Swope. Hall will talk about his relationship with Denver, the making of the movie adaptation, and the difference between his first visit to B/CS and what he sees today.
The second event will be a special red carpet sneak preview of the movie “Same Kind of Different As Me” on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Cinemark in College Station and is open to those who attend the dinner. Along with the movie, viewers also get to see soundtrack interviews of Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear, two of the stars of the film, as they discuss the impact of the making of the movie. The movie will be released nationally on Friday, Oct. 20.
With the release of the movie and its viewing in B/CS, Twin City Mission hopes to create a buzz across the Brazos Valley with a message of acceptance for those who are in a tough part of their lives.
“This is huge for us because we spend a lot of time trying to educate the community that [Twin City Mission] is more than a homeless shelter,” says Ron Crozier, director of community relations for Twin City Mission. “This movie is a huge avenue for expanding public awareness. These issues are not unique to large metro areas. They exist here in our community.”
The influence of Hall in B/CS began eight years ago. In March 2009, Twin City Mission was in the midst of a capital campaign that resulted in the building of the new homeless shelter. While visiting on behalf of his book, Hall walked into the old facilities and made an observation that has resonated through the years and sparked change in B/CS; Hall said that after seeing more than 200 homeless shelters across the country, the shelter in B/CS was by far the worst he had seen. He chastised the community for allowing this, challenging them to make a change. Five short months later, the new shelter was complete and a new era of awareness and service started at Twin City Mission.
Twin City Mission seeks to be a shelter for anyone in need of help. Hall challenged the community to service not only the physical needs of the patrons, but also the emotional and mental needs. When asked how Twin City Mission carries out this goal, Crozier offers a simple answer.
“We treat every person that comes to us with dignity and respect,” says Crozier. “As a society we tend to look at those people who are in need of services as being less than. Ron challenges us to look beyond that. The best quote that came out of that book was, ‘We can’t begin to see people for who we are until we can get past looking at them for where they are.’”
To purchase tickets for the dinner, visit www.twincitymission.org or call (979) 822-7511. Donations can be made in the form of sponsorships, individual tickets, or monetary donations in any desired amount. All sponsorships include tickets to the screening of the movie.
Swope Continues to Serve Twin City Mission as Co-Chair
Former Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope is accustomed to being in the spotlight. Many remember him for the catches, yards run, and the touchdowns he’s scored. But it is his work off the field that sets him apart and makes him the perfect candidate to serve as a leader in the Twin City Mission capital improvement campaign. Together with his wife Melissa, Swope will serve as a co-chair for this year’s special event with Ron Hall.
Swope originally became involved during the early years of his football career at Texas A&M University. Under Coach Mike Sherman’s leadership, the football team established a volunteer relationship with Twin City Mission, specifically with the Bridge Homeless Shelter.
“Coach Sherman was very knowledgeable and kind of raised the bar for us to give back to the community,” says Swope. “He went the extra mile and made the connection with Twin City Mission and we engaged with them. It was a really cool and neat experience.”
Just as Ron Hall’s book teaches the reader about how little differences matter between people, Swope saw this become true when the football team interacted with those staying in the shelter.
“The best word to describe it would be humbling,” Swope says. “As a collegiate or professional athlete, … you can get caught up in just being an athlete, getting in a robotic stage. It’s humbling when you do go into a place like Twin City Mission and get involved. You become passionate about giving back and it opens your eyes and shows you what’s most important. And that’s giving back and always putting people before you … because at the end of the day we are all human beings, and we are all equal.”