The Hangar Unity Center focuses on community in Brookshire

By Melani Alanis, Editorial Intern
Posted 8/11/21

The Hangar Unity Community Center, is a place where people from all over the community can find help and a safe place to go, said Ryan Orbin, cofounder of the center. The local nonprofit offers …

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The Hangar Unity Center focuses on community in Brookshire

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The Hangar Unity Community Center, is a place where people from all over the community can find help and a safe place to go, said Ryan Orbin, cofounder of the center. The local nonprofit offers programs for teens, families and support for the community.

“Whether its people that don’t know God to bring them a relationship with God or of different races and different denominations or different economic statuses we want to be able to bring people together,” Orbin said. “God has designed them with a purpose and destiny and we want people to be equipped and to know in the fullness of what God created them to be and so that’s what the Hangar is, a place where life takes flight.”

Nine years ago Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper that goes by the name Tre9, got a call that there were two suicides and a bunch of overdoses in the high school in Brookshire. Orbin said Herring, who is a cofounder of The Hangar, reached out to the school and helped students address the stresses of those issues and began helping students regularly.

“They did an assembly after school, and that got a really good response,” Orbin said. “They shared the gospel, and about 125 people accepted Jesus. Then they started a Thursday after school mentor program called HD Mentoring, and on Thursday evening they would do an outreach called Hip Hop Hope.”

Herring started Eyes On Me whose mission is to mentor disciples and serve at-risk youth and their families. But it wasn’t until later that the founders of the Hangar would meet to create a facility that would be a part of Eyes on Me.

Orbin said he’d never heard of Brookshire before he went to a rehab program there eight years ago. While in rehab he found his faith and was inspired to stay.

“God, through a passage in the Bible, said ‘Pray for the city where I sent you into exile for in its welfare you’ll find your welfare.’ That’s in Jeremiah 29, and I saw that passage and I felt like God was keeping me here in Brookshire.”

Herring had been praying to God to send him someone that would help catalyze things in the community, when he met Orbin who started helping out at the hip hop events.

Orbin moved into a permanent home in Brookshire and began working at the Hangar.

“(Herring) and I had been praying and doing outreach and we felt like God said that he was believing in a community center and so we started that process,” Orbin said.

Orbin and Herring raised money to try to establish The Hangar, but weren’t able to raise enough funds to buy the property they needed. Fortunately, Orbin said, The Hangar’s landlord offered to lease the 5 and a half acres and building for the nonprofit for $1 a year, which allowed them to establish the community center.

“We called it a community center when God first gave us the vision and as we came in here and we decided to name it The Hanger. God told us the Hangar Unity Center because we want to be a bridge not only to have a relationship with God and introduce people to Jesus but to bring people together because we believe that God wants us to write a story of transformation here in Brookshire,” Orbin said.

The Hangar hosts mentor programs for teen girls each Wednesday, teen boys on Tuesdays and for all teens on Thursdays. The Thursday night events are called The Takeoff, Orbin said. The Hangar is a Christian organization.

“My favorite thing is to just be able to come every day and see people who don’t know God come into a relationship with God and begin to understand that there is a God that loves them and that it is not conditional,” Orbin said.

The Hangar’s service to the community includes helping people recover from Hurricane Harvey and, more recently, Winter Storm Uri this last February. Orbin said being able to pivot to handle tragedies that impact the community is a key part of The Hangar’s mission.

During the pandemic, the Hangar distributed food to 450-500 families every Friday. As the pandemic slowed, they did it twice a month and then monthly, Orbin said. So far, the non-profit has hosted more than 25 food distributions.

“With COVID-19 … we had to be quick and figure out how we could be of service to the community and so when it first came out there were a lot of unknowns, but we saw quickly that there was a need for food here in the community,” Orbin said.

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