Meet Ray

Meet Ray: The Man Who Inspired a “Switchpoint” 

A "switchpoint" is the mechanism on train tracks where a simple adjustment can reroute a train, sending it in an entirely new direction.

Ray with long hair in a wheelchair

One cold, rainy morning during her drive to work, Carol Hollowell noticed a man in a wheelchair. She rolled down her window and asked, "Hey buddy, where are you headed?"

"To get a cup of coffee and warm up," he replied.

"I'll take you!" Carol said, pulling over and loading the man and his wheelchair into her truck. They made their way to a nearby grocery store, where they sat down and shared a cup of coffee. His name was Ray, and Carol soon learned he had been homeless for a long time. "My wallet was stolen five years ago," he explained, "and without ID, you can't do anything."

Carol was stunned. Could a lost wallet really be the reason this man had been without shelter for five years? What seemed like a simple solution, getting a new ID from the DMV, was an insurmountable barrier for Ray.

Years earlier, Ray had become wheelchair-bound after a fall from a two-story building he was helping construct, which also resulted in a traumatic brain injury. The DMV was 20 miles away without bus service, and Ray couldn't drive. To make matters worse, you needed a picture ID for a replacement ID, and Ray had none. Although he had disability income, he couldn't access it without an ID. Without an ID, he couldn't rent an apartment or check into a hotel, so he had remained on the streets for five years.

Carol made a promise to get Ray housed and obtain a valid ID for him that very day. After numerous phone calls, heartfelt pleas, and seven hours of effort, Ray finally held his vital documents and had a permanent place to call home. For the first time in years, Ray slept in his own bed that night.

At some point during that day, Carol described feeling as though a switch had flipped inside her. She calls it her "switchpoint." Not only did Carol's life trajectory change that day, but so did the lives of thousands of others since then.

My Mission Was Born That Day...

"My mission was born that day," Carol revealed, "and I could not, I would not turn a blind eye to “the Ray's" of the world and the broken system that had ensnared them."

Drawing from her background in business innovation, Carol wholeheartedly dedicated herself to uncovering the underlying causes of homelessness and poverty, pioneering innovative solutions to bring about their end.

Inspired by her transformative encounter with Ray, Carol founded the Switchpoint Community Resource Center in 2014. Operating around the clock, its mission goes beyond meeting the immediate needs of individuals facing poverty and homelessness. Switchpoint delves deep into addressing the root causes while empowering people to reclaim their lives. Switchpoint provides essential resources such in multiple cities such as:

  • On-site food pantry
  • A soup kitchen
  • Emergency shelter
  • Public showers
  • Clothing
  • Case management
  • Permanant housing
  • Job training

Switchpoint's job training is facilitated through its numerous Switchpoint Enterprises, and an array of support services to facilitate clients' journey towards self-sufficiency.

A core focus of our mission is to ensure individuals have stable housing, and in pursuit of this, Switchpoint actively develops affordable, long-term housing solutions. We have provided 38,690 bed nights and to date (and growing), more than 500 clients have transitioned from homelessness to becoming "residents" with a permanent place to call home.

Switchpoint's Unique Model

Switchpoint has pioneered inventive methods to sustain itself and foster growth. In addition to the support from grants, donations, corporations, foundations, and dedicated sponsors who recognize the pressing need, Switchpoint operates financially self-sufficiently through the profits generated by its six enterprises.

Volunteer contributions are equally vital to our operations, with more than 988 community volunteers contributing over 31,628 hours of service this past year alone. We have distributed over 3,095,388 pounds of food from our pantries and soup kitchens.

Ray with a haircut looking happier

Our innovative model has gained recognition from leaders within our state and across the nation, inspiring them to replicate it in their efforts to combat poverty and homelessness.

“I had no idea I was forging this path. I just knew we needed to provide nourishment and shelter for people in crisis."

For Ray, a little assistance restored his hope. At Switchpoint, our clients find hope, and with hope, the potential for transformation becomes limitless.

Just the Beginning

Since its establishment in 2014, Switchpoint Community Resource Center (CRC) has since established Switchpoint Enterprises, which encompass:

Acknowledging the success of the Switchpoint model, we've broadened our impact. Our facilities, services, and housing now span nationwide, alongside our newly introduced cooperative extending to various regions across the country.

"No one I've ever met wakes up one morning and decides, 'I want to be homeless today.' When something as simple as a stolen wallet has the power to create a life sentence of homelessness and poverty, something has to change."

~Carol Hollowell