The first Sunday of every month, you’ll find Lake Highlands resident Russ Pate serving hot dog dinners at Austin Street Centre. It’s a ritual he has continued for the past five years, along with members of St. James Episcopal Church. But his church isn’t the only group aiding the venerable homeless shelter. In fact, more than 100 churches rotate dinner duty every month at ASC.
Today ASC is well taken care of by a core of local, and even some high profile, volunteers. But that wasn’t always the case. The account of ASC revolves around the story of two people, the Reverends Harry and Bubba Dailey, who met, fell in love, and married through challenging circumstances – Harry was a transient, and Bubba is the homeless advocate and co-founder of ASC who helped care for him. Their story, and the story of the ASC, didn’t go unnoticed by Pate, a freelance writer and author. So his latest book, “Heaven Sent,” chronicles in detail this inspirational story.
“Heaven Sent” is Pate’s ninth book. He has previously collaborated with athletes Mike Singletary (a story about fatherhood), Goose Gossage, Cynthia Cooper and Doug Sanders.
Pate, a Lake Highlands resident since 1976, first met the Daileys in the late ‘90s when he and wife Becky joined St. James. The Daileys were both assistant rectors in that parish. Pate says he started volunteering with the church group at ASC, where he got to know the couple even more.
Then one Sunday at church, Harry Dailey told his story to the congregation – the story about how he nearly died living on the streets and how he turned his life around by helping other homeless people through the ASC and then becoming an Episcopal priest.
“I thought to myself, ‘This is a good story. I’ll delve into this more deeply,’” Pate says.
After hearing Dailey’s testimony, Pate began spending more time at the shelter, conducting interviews and “watching interactions and how things happened – and over time building a fatter and fatter file,” Pate says.
Then in 2003m as ASC celebrated its 20th anniversary, Pate helped to build a fund-raising calendar.
“In producing the calendar, I wrote all of the copy. I thought, ‘This makes a synopsis for a book.’ All of the bits and pieces added up,” he says.
In researching the book, he found inspiration from the Daileys.
“I learned we can all do more for each other. And [The Daileys] is just one example of people doing ministry. Humans have a greater capacity to serve and not ignore the problems of others.”