Gregory’s journey restores hope to a forgotten Houston community

Jan. 1, 2008
Jonathan Gregory is an executive vice president with Texas Capital Bank, where he has managed the bank’s Houston Energy banking group for the last three years.

Jonathan Gregory is an executive vice president with Texas Capital Bank, where he has managed the bank’s Houston Energy banking group for the last three years. A twenty year banker, Jonathan, more importantly is an urban missionary. “Putting the needs of others in front of our own needs was how my brothers and I were reared. We grew up in poverty, yet we always had everything we needed. Notwithstanding our circumstances, we watched our parents constantly share our limited resources with our less fortunate neighbors around us.

In the fall of 1992, Gregory working along with his close friend and pastor, Reverend Rudy Rasmus, senior pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church, set out on a journey to restore hope to a forgotten community. Together they co–founded Bread of Life Inc. (BOL), a non–profit organization dedicated to improving the life of Houston’s homeless population. Gregory, who at the time was a young banker with Bank One, had witnessed on a daily basis the hopelessness on the faces of the homeless men and women he encountered in downtown Houston. Still today, on any given night, there are 15,000 homeless men, women, and children in the Houston area. This number grows exponentially when you factor in the marginal homeless who are in and out of relatives’ homes, shelters, and other temporary living facilities. “How could I stand by idle, see people in need and not do anything about it, especially when God has blessed me with the resources to make a difference,” he said.

BOL begin its mission to serve with a twice a week meal program, which Gregory and his wife, funded for the first two years of its existence. In 1994, holding true to his commitment to serve, he put his strategic thinking and organization gifts to further use, taking a one year sabbatical from his banking career to volunteer as the first full time executive director of BOL. It was during this time that Gregory over saw the conversion of an old church parsonage into the original Daybreak Community Health Center (a full service acute care health clinic and hygiene center where homeless individuals can bath and wash their clothing).

“All men, women and children regardless of their race or economic status, must be treated with love, dignity and respect. It’s through our love that many will find the hope and the strength they need to resurrect their lives,” Gregory said. As a result of his continued humanitarian efforts and the service of others who have joined in the fight, BOL now provides over 72,000 meals a year to homeless Houstonians, distributes over 400 tons of food a year to needy families, provides hygiene and health care services to hundreds of homeless and indigent individuals, and provides job skills training and placement programming, along with other services designed to help individuals move towards self–sufficiency.

Gregory and Catheryn Longino, Bread of Life executive director
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BOL is also involved with providing health care and prevention education. Weekly, BOL outreach workers go into high–risk communities to teach healthy life style behaviors and provide opportunities for individuals to be tested for HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Jonathan has also been instrumental in the direction of BOL’s St. John’s Academy, an early childhood center and a HISD Charter School. Approximately 60% of the students who attend the school are affected or infected with HIV/AIDS, and 95% come from families who are socio–economically disadvantaged, and/or living in transitional housing or shelters.

Believing strongly in the vision and mission of BOL, Gregory currently serves on BOL’s advisory board and focuses the majority of his time and efforts on the fund raising, development, and volunteer needs of the organization. He strongly encourages others to give of their time and resources to help perpetuate the furtherance of BOL’s goals and objectives. “It is our responsibility to hold up, love, and encourage those who are less fortunate than us until they are strong enough to stand on their own,” he said.

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Mikaila Adams
Associate Editor – OGFJ