A Gritty Journey of Tex-Mex Theology with Alan Graham, Founder and CEO of Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Missing John Vincent
John Vincent was the most enthusiastic neighbor ever to grace Community First! Village, known by all for his larger-than-life personality and entrepreneurial mindset. Sadly, John left this world too early. He passed away a few months ago after suffering a major heart attack, and we miss our brother deeply. We’re grateful to have been able to record this Gospel Con Carne episode with John prior to his passing and be able to share a glimpse of the amazingly rough though beautiful life he lived. John endured a childhood of abandonment and as an adult spent a good number of years in prison where, as he describes, it often seemed easier than living on the streets. In this final conversation we were blessed to have with John, he shares the ongoing struggles of addiction and how community was the difference maker in his life as he pursued a path of transformation. Your Community First! family misses you, John, and we love you dearly.
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Ever since seeing Elvis Presley in concert as a 7-year-old boy, Louis Messina knew he wanted to be in the music business. Today he is recognized as a powerhouse promoter in the music and entertainment industry—and has been for the past several decades—with current and past clients including Taylor Swift, George Strait, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others. Taking a trip down memory lane evokes a range of emotions from Louis as he discusses family, relationships, business and a career focused on helping others’ dreams come true.
When Gary Floyd talks about his childhood, he has plenty of good memories to share. The one part that he wishes would have been different is the role alcohol played in his upbringing. Gary was introduced to alcohol at a very young age, and it led him down a path of recklessness that ultimately landed him in prison for nearly two decades. Today Gary is a well known, outgoing neighbor in Community First! Village – and though his days are not without struggle, he is grateful for the power of hope.
Texas Senator Kirk Watson joins the Gospel Con Carne podcast for a compelling conversation about the current issues facing our community. His journey to the state senate has led him to see the power of both collaboration and communication. Through his time spent in politics, Senator Watson also has been witness to a new level divisiveness and its unfortunate impact on society. He shares his deep belief that hope matters, and is what ultimately can bring about real change in our world.
If you want to find Richard Devore around Community First Village, you need to look no further than our Genesis Gardens. Richard works diligently as part of the gardening operation in the Village, and even leads regular tours with volunteers to share about his newfound community. This is quite a change from the previous life he lived, during which Richard says he lacked drive and direction. Today, he’s grateful for the little ways in which he feels appreciated on a daily basis.
At one point in life, Donna Berber described her existence as one of misery, sorrow and hardship. Once you hear her amazing story, you’ll understand why. After enduring a childhood filled with tremendous grief and loss, Donna shares how her experiences cultivated in her a heart of compassion for others who found themselves in a place of suffering. Today she leads A Glimmer of Hope, an extraordinary foundation she co-founded with her husband Philip, which is dedicated to inspiring hope and empowering community throughout Ethiopia. Today, Donna’s halo and her impact on the lives of others has literally been felt around the world.
Our friend Will Langley is a person who acutely understands the deep impact of broken family relationships on one’s life. He survived a past riddled with abuse and immense loss, and ultimately ended up on the streets living a life of panhandling and struggling to overcome addiction. Will shares his intense journey of brokenness, battling addictions and the friendships that helped lead him to the place he is today as a hard working and trusted neighbor.
To the world it seemed like Joelle Maryn had it all. She was an accomplished model, ran a successful cosmetics company and lived a life of luxury while splitting time between New York and Los Angeles. Joelle contends that she indeed had a lot of ‘stuff’ – but hers was the stuff of emptiness. Her journey through emotional homelessness led her into the ministry, and she now works with youth and young adults to cultivate spiritual growth in their lives. Joelle’s story of grace, redemption and reconciliation is a powerful reminder of what can happen in one’s life when they simply stop and turn around.
For Kristin Paulson, fewer square feet at home has resulted in fewer burdens in life. It hasn’t always been this way. A year ago she and her family traded in their comfortable American dream lifestyle for a 350-square-foot tiny home in Community First! Village where they serve as one of several missional families. While our friends who live in the Village all have different paths and experiences that led them here, the power of transformation is a common thread woven throughout their stories. Kristin’s journey of discovering her true identity through Christ has left her with a greater sense of purpose, and an opportunity to help others who are in need of healing.
Charlie Click is a welcoming neighbor who most folks around Community First! Village recognize from his regular trips around the neighborhood on his motorcycle. After growing up in what he refers to as a hard core environment, Charlie battled with drugs, alcohol, prison time and a profound sense of loneliness for much of his life. Charlie’s journey of survival led him home to Community First! Village, where he has found a new sense of safety and security. His is a powerful conversation touching on the pain of broken families and the deep desire to discover a place to belong.
Tim League is the founder and CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse, and has been a strong advocate of Community First! Village since its beginning. His unexpected exposure to issues involving homelessness came by way of his professional journey and his desire to create a unique – even transformative – moviegoing experience. Tim shares about his path in life marked by positive family relationships, crisis, failure and his focus on trying to lead with kindness in all that he does.
Emily Seals has been living in Community First! Village for two years, though many folks likely still remember her as the kind, white-haired panhandler who often flew a sign at the corner of Loop 360 and Bee Caves Road in Austin. She survived a past full of abuse and significant trauma, and ultimately ended up living on the streets for more than a decade. When a stranger rolled down his window one day and asked Emily her name, she unknowingly took her first steps into a restorative journey and the security of a new friendship.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes is an extraordinarily relational ministry, and Meagan McCoy Jones truly exemplifies the transformational impact that relationships can have on family, business and serving others. A fourth-generation owner of McCoy’s Building Supply, her life has been profoundly influenced by the will of her parents to cling to their faith and push through a crisis they encountered in their marriage when she was younger. As a result, Meagan has a deeper understanding behind what she calls the “power of showing up.”
My friend Bonnie Durkee is used to making her presence known at Community First! Village. A mostly blind, diabetic amputee, it’s not uncommon to find her in conversation or trading friendly jabs with neighbors as she rolls around the neighborhood in her wheelchair. Bonnie is also incredibly resilient, as demonstrated by the number of storms she has faced and overcome in life. Her desire to conduct herself as a person of integrity – in a way that would make her father proud – is truly admirable.
After experiencing a childhood of poverty and his own encounters with homelessness in early adulthood, John Paul DeJoria is recognized as one of the greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists in our country. He also exemplifies what Alan Graham likes to refer to as the Heart-Over-Pocket or H/P Ratio. From an early job as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman to his role as co-founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and also Patron tequila, John Paul lives by a key mantra – “Success unshared is total failure.”
Tracy Krause is a brave woman who understands what it takes to survive. After enduring a challenging and abusive childhood, she left home as a young teenager and walked into a life of drug and alcohol addiction on the streets. She now knows without a doubt that the people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your path in life. Tracy’s journey has led her to Community First! Village, where for once she feels like her dignity is being restored and her soul redeemed.
A short preview of the coming launch of the ‘Gospel Con Carne’ podcast with Alan Graham, founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Mobile Loaves & Fishes.
Each of us has a story to tell about who we are and how we got to where we are in life, and the element of community, whether you realize it or not, has played a vital part.
Alan Graham is one of the country’s leading visionaries on issues involving homelessness. He’s also a pretty cool dude. Meet Your Host >
You alone have not just pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. Your path in life—your story—has been molded by other individuals along the way.
Hosted by Alan Graham, founder and CEO of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, the ‘Gospel Con Carne’ podcast explores the woundedness of society through the untold stories of individuals who have encountered homelessness. You’ll hear from men and women who lived on the streets for years or even decades, and other guests who, though never homeless, understand the profound impact of family and community on their lives.
Join Alan as he takes you on a gritty journey of Tex-Mex theology while unpacking poignant stories from the streets of life that will leave you with a new understanding of the significance of community and home.