Southwind Fields: Where Every Person Has a PurposeBookmark this
Chris has big dreams. Affectionately known as “Superman” by those who love him, he wanted more out of life than what he found as a young man on the Autism spectrum in a small town in East Texas. Chris struggled to find work, battled depression, and found it difficult to access the community and meaningful connections. Chris aspires to be a competitive bodybuilder and a public speaker, hoping to encourage others to chase the calling that God has placed in their hearts. Last May, Chris became aware of Southwind Fields (SWF) and asked his father to help him apply to their program, hoping to finally have the support he needed to live in his own place. Chris is now living in San Antonio in his first apartment and currently works at UTSA part-time but has recently found employment at USAA. He has learned to travel the city on his own, is active in church, and is a volunteer speaker with SWF. Chris’s identity is not found in what others say he can do, but found solely in Christ.
Chris is part of a growing number of testimonies coming from SWF. According to their website, Texas ranks 49th in the United States for providing services to adults with disabilities. Yes, we are second to last and that is just not Texas. In addition, an estimated 9-12 percent of the homeless population has a cognitive impairment. SWF offers a solution by helping such people live independently as possible and building an inclusive community that inspires them to find purpose in their lives.
It started in 2012 when a group of church members from Life Point Church started helping the broken and marginalized in San Antonio. A year later they founded the Mercy Coalition, a homeless ministry where one of its members, SWF co-founder and CEO Leslie Bellieu, discovered how many homeless individuals had disabilities. In March 2017, Bellieu was called away from her work as a CPO of a nonprofit focused on special needs and her and members of the Mercy Coalition reincorporated to become Southwind Fields, focusing on Bellieu’s goal of creating an all-inclusive community for adults with disabilities.
Everyone deserves to live a life they love.
SWF is fostering a sense of community with remarkable endeavors. For a small fee of $25, program applicants become “Locals” and are assigned a Local Advisor (terms like “customers” are considered impersonal according to co-founder Charles Morris). Advisors check in with Locals two or three times a week and provide services whether they live in their own places or with a caregiver. They assist Locals in living semi-independently by helping them find jobs, find apartments (SWF secured a partnership with a complex in Northwest San Antonio), provide on-call nursing, 24/7 on-call support, and optional financial management, help develop living skills, and plan weekly “Local family” events. Upcoming plans include opening the "Local Hub".
The Local Hub is the next step and SWF is currently looking for a donated space. It will be a program that provides an environment where Locals work towards holistic wellness (mind, body, and soul) by taking part in activities that includes missionary work with other nonprofit organizations (partnerships Bellieu and the staff have maintained over the years). The program consists of daily Life groups where Locals build relationships, learn about Jesus, and help grow and maintain independent living, social, and communication skills. They will attend therapy-based classes, enjoy organic and locally sourced meals, and pursue employment opportunities with the Southwind Work team. Simply put, they locate meaning and purpose and live it out every day.
“Where we start is helping them understand that they’re like everybody else, that their life has purpose and meaning.”
The long-term plan for SWF is the Tiny House Community, an all-inclusive, sustainable gated community in the Texas hill country set to open in the next few years. Locals will have their choice of a tiny home or a room at their inspiration village, and they can take part in community outreach events and service opportunities, skill building life-groups, and therapy-based classes. Tiny House will have a clinic, farmers’ market, garden, outdoor movie theater, chapel (all run by the work teams), and on-site medical supervision in an eco-friendly environment. They are also looking for mentors, usually retirees or those with hearing and/or vision loss, who come along side SWF locals to create a symbiotic environment, sharing their own expertise and life experiences to encourage and enrich one another's lives. SWF is actively seeking funding and in-kind donations for this vision.
SWF wants to instill the love of God into Locals by showing them that their lives matter to Him. “We believe that your identity is found in Christ,” says Bellieu. “The people that we serve know about God or have some relationship on some level, but for the most part the Gospel has never really moved them in a way they understand, and kind of where we start is helping them understand that they’re like everybody else, that their life has purpose and meaning.”
People invisible to the world are visible to God and He has a plan for them because of the help of willing servants.
A line on the SWF website reads “Everyone deserves to live a life they love”. People invisible to the world are visible to God and He has a plan for them because of the help of willing servants. The people at Southwind Fields want to show adults with disabilities what it’s like to be empowered through meaningful experiences. Through community, including Tiny House, Locals will have a safe space where they can grow spiritually and emotionally and have a place to call their own. After all, “with God all things are possible”.
6581Citizens Parkway #224
Open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5p.m.
For more information, 210-526-1567
or find them on Facebook and Twitter @ southwindfields
Be A Light.
Pray. For continued growth and divine leadership for our team and to meet the needs of those we’re serving. Invite. We want to stand in front of congregations and organizations to spread the word and invite them to be involved. Talent. SWF is looking for grant writers. Volunteer. SWF is looking for people that would consider becoming Local mentors. Contact the ministry to get involved. Give. Donations can be given through the SWF website. Help them reach their vision.