Brookshire nonprofit standing strong

Joselyn Hofer | Times Editorial Intern
Posted 7/9/20

In Brookshire, just off of Velasco Road, lies the Hangar Unity Center – a small, faith-based nonprofit run by Ryan Orbin.

The nonprofit works to reach everyone in the community by providing …

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Brookshire nonprofit standing strong

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In Brookshire, just off of Velasco Road, lies the Hangar Unity Center – a small, faith-based nonprofit run by Ryan Orbin.

The nonprofit works to reach everyone in the community by providing the residents of Brookshire free services ranging from a ladies’ fitness night to one-on-one youth mentorship. Although the Hangar has been standing strong for close to three years, the idea stemmed from the work of Christian rap artist Bobby Herring, or as he’s better known, Tre9, said Orbin.

“Basically, we’re part of a larger nonprofit called Eyes on Me. Eyes on Me was started in 2011 by a guy named Bobby Herring. He traveled around, did shows, invited people into a relationship with God (and) God really just convicted him... and so he started the nonprofit,” Orbin said.

Thus began the nonprofit Eyes on Me, as well as an outreach event called Hip Hop Hope. The nonprofit only grew from there with a more specified effort directed towards youths with after school programs and mentorship. The Hangar really didn’t emerge until the arrival of Orbin after an eight-month stay in rehab.

“I grew up on the southwest side of Houston, and long story short, I became addicted to drugs for 17 years. I couldn’t be at peace with myself. (It was) just 17 years of hell,” Orbin said.

It wasn’t until he hit rock bottom that Orbin decided to turn his life around and attend rehab at the Manna House in Brookshire. He was there for eight months, he said, where he began to heal from some of his biggest emotional wounds. When Orbin left, he came out a new person. That was when he met Tre9 and began the journey of creating the Hangar.

“I met Tre … and I started showing up every Thursday night for Hip Hop Hope. After a couple weeks Tre just got to know me a little bit. He said, ‘You know what, Ryan? I really wanna see Hip Hop Hope start in other communities. We’ve been praying that God would send somebody to be a missionary to this community and help catalyze the movement’ and he was like, ‘I think you’re him.’ And I said, ‘Yep. I think I am,’” Orbin said.

From there, Eyes on Me expanded, and eventually led them to the Hangar’s current location in August of 2017. The area had been an old school so most of the buildings required remodeling. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, things were put on hold but it didn’t take long before remodeling resumed.

“We started remodeling about November of 2017 and then it (was) Hip Hop Hope on Thursday nights and from there since then we’ve built a whole slate of programming,” Orbin said.

Of course, with COVID-19 restrictions, the Hangar has had to make some adjustments, but on a regular week they have a variety of programming, open for everyone. That includes a mentorship program, a teen mom support group, a free medical clinic, soccer training, fitness nights, and a church gathering every Sunday.

Due to COVID-19, the Hangar has been closed but is still serving the community through food drives and live videos on social media, Orbin said. Orbin himself has even visited some of the kids the Hangar has mentored, offering snacks and toys.

“My wife and I – since we’re here in this community – we’re walking the neighborhoods in the evening, we’re checking on our kids in the apartments, we’re getting stuff for them. We’ve (also)

been doing a lot of online stuff through the Eyes On Me Facebook page to help bring messages of hope,” Orbin said.

Orbin hopes to re-open sometime in the fall with even more programs, but, until then he is still finding new ways to give support and accomplish the Hangar’s mission.

“I want to see every person walk in the fullness of what God has for them,” he said. “If we’re going to walk in that fullness … we have to allow him to heal. We have to be willing to be transparent with him and allow him to heal our hearts... And so that’s ultimately what I want to see; these people walking in complete and total freedom and their God-given destiny.”

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