HOUSTON - Louis Gould dresses like your average businessman. His shoes are polished and he has crisp suits pants on. He even drives a silver Nissan.
He has a home, too, but just nine months ago, his home was underneath the Highway 59 overpass.
"I was on drugs, I was all screwed up, you know, just lost," Gould said. "It was mentally draining. It was physically draining -- not knowing where you were going to get your next meal, trying to survive, worrying about getting robbed, etc."
Eventually, he met two women: Brooke Rives and Delania Mulcahy. They are the co-founders of Direct Hope.
The pair had been coming out to the area to serve hot meals to the homeless every Sunday since the start of 2015. Later that year, they encountered Gould.
"He would get in our food line, and we'd start to talk to him," Rives said. "Obviously, he's a really nice guy going through hard times."
Once they talked more, they realized Gould wanted help.
"They said they could help me get whatever I needed, and I looked at her, looked down at my feet and said, 'Can you get me some shoes?'"
A week later, the women came back with size 15 Doc Martins.
"It's hard for me to get shoes because of the size, because a lot of people didn't have them, but she kept ensuring me she had them, so that kind of made me trust her," Gould said.
With trust came responsibility, including becoming Santa for Direct Hope's Christmas celebration.
"They never asked me for nothing," Gould said. "They didn't say I had to volunteer. They didn't say I had to play Santa."
Gould has cleaned himself up. He is working, spending more time with his son and spending time on the other side of the food line.
"It's special to me that I could be the one out here trying to help somebody instead of always looking for help," he said.
Direct Hope has evolved from the food line into a non-profit that has more than 100 volunteers. The organization focuses on helping people that want help and helps get those people integrated back into the community. For more information on Direct Hope, visit the organization's Facebook page.
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