Lake Texoma

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Grayson County Shelter

Lumini Services
Kendall Davis is well-versed in the English language. She has 20 years experience as a published author and writing for clients. Her published works include historical articles in museums, magazines, newspaper articles, columns, content marketing, advertising copy, blogging, and academic papers. Kendall also makes her way in the literary world as a copyeditor. Writing about history is her first love interest. If you have editing or content needs on your website or for your books, articles, blogs, or columns, please visit her website to see details and more examples of her work, the services she offers, and contact information.

I like to highlight non-profit organizations in the fall because the largest giving season for charities begins in December. In December, 31% of annual giving occurs, and 12% of annual giving occurs in the last three days of December. Over half of non-profits, 53.8%, begin their December campaigns in October. Historically, religious groups receive the largest share of donations. The needs are tremendous in all sectors of charities.

This week, I interviewed Sheila Penn, new executive director of the Grayson County Shelter in Denison, and Rosalind Hendricks, volunteer event coordinator. The Grayson County Shelter offers the following services, but they are only the tip of the iceberg concerning what the shelter does to help families and people with their needs:

  • A safe, clean and secure temporary home while searching for jobs and housing
  • A telephone number and address to use during employment searches
  • Private rooms for families so they can remain together
  • Meals, personal care items and clothing
  • A minimum 21-day stay to save income and return to self-reliance
  • On-site washer and dryer facilities
  • A fenced playground for resident's children
  • Referrals for social services and other agencies

When you came on the job three weeks ago, did you realize the great need in Texomaland to serve homeless people and families?

Sheila: No, I knew the shelter was here and provided housing. But I had no idea of the seriousness of the homeless situation in the Grayson County area. We get referrals for residents from all over; word of mouth, other agencies, the hospitals, police, and more.

We are actually the only homeless shelter in the Grayson County area and the largest shelter that accepts families in the North Texas region.

Please tell us some of the history of the Grayson County Shelter?

Sheila: In the beginning, it was only a part-time shelter. Now we’re open 24-7. Dr. Donald Brandt donated the building in his wife’s honor, Helen Brandt. Then community leaders joined forces to establish the shelter 1985. We serve approximately 300 residents per year.

We provide assistance to approximately 10,000 non-residents with food and clothing per year. Anytime there’s extreme weather, we open up our lobby for people to come in and get out of the extreme hot or cold weather.

How large is the facility?

Sheila: We can house a maximum of 46 residents at a time. This includes men, women, and families.

How do people qualify for your residential services?

Rosalind: People can call and inquire about availability. We ask them a series of questions and conduct an immediate background check that takes a couple of minutes. If they do not pass the background check, the conversation ends. If they pass the background check, we continue to gather information from them. For instance, we have bunk beds in our dorm rooms and we may only have top bunks available, so they need to be able to climb into a top bunk.

How many volunteers currently work at the Grayson County Shelter?

Rosalind: During the last quarter of the year we can have 50 to 100 volunteers. We usually have five to 15 volunteers in the first three quarters of the year. A lot of church members help out in any way that they can. Denton Housing Authority sends us volunteers, and we receive a lot of help from people with court-ordered community service.

What is your onboarding process for volunteers?

Rosalind: People who want to volunteer fill out an application, and we run a background check on them. Then I conduct an orientation and assign duties. People can volunteer as much time as they want to from a couple of hours a day once a month to several days a week either at the shelter or at our thrift store, The Crowded Closet. We only assign duties to volunteers that they are physically able to handle.

Who should people contact if they are interested in volunteering for Grayson County Shelter?

Rosalind: Just call the shelter phone number and ask for me or Sheila, or if we are not available at the moment, leave a name and a number, and I will get back to them ASAP.

Do some of the recipients of your services come back and volunteer?

Sheila: Absolutely! About 60% of former residents come back to volunteer and also bring donations to help out.

What are your security operations?

Sheila: We conduct background checks on residents and volunteers for sex and violent offenders and domestic abuse victims. We cannot accept residents with a domestic abuse history because of the safety or our residents. We refer them to the Crisis Center, and we refer Veterans to the Salvation Army. Those agencies are better equipped to serve their needs.

The Crowded Closet

The Crowded Closet is the name of the Grayson County Shelter’s thrift store.

Where do your donations for the Crowded Closet come from?

Rosalind: We solicit for help on our website and Facebook page. Churches and individuals donate items like household items, furniture, clothing, and anything we can sell. The proceeds go back into the shelter. We provide vouchers to residents and non-residents for free items to help them get started in a new household or survive.

What does the Crowded Closet mean to residents moving into self-reliance?

Sheila: They can start anew with food and anything they need, and sometimes we are able to provide beds, extra mattresses, and bedding.


Does Grayson County Shelter have corporate sponsors?

Sheila: At this time, local sponsors include Ruiz Foods in Dennison, First United Bank, Tyson Foods in Sherman, Spectrum, an internet, tv, and voice provider, Douglas Distributing in Sherman, and several churches. North Texas Food Bank, churches, and individuals provide the shelter with food for meals. If we have more than we can use, we share with other agencies.

How do you conduct your fundraising efforts?

Rosalind: Our Coat Drive begins in October. We request coats, blankets, sleeping bags, gloves, caps, and socks to give to non-residents throughout the winter months which benefits approximately 500 people.

Throughout the year different restaurants around the area allow us to hold fundraising events. Recently Panda Express donated 50% of their profits for a day. Also, the Cotton Patch, Olive Garden, Dicky’s BBQ, and IHOP held fundraising days for us this year. Each restaurant handles their donations differently, but all of them donate a percentage of a day’s profit to us. Panda Express sent out coupons sent to a person or their phone, and when they brought in the coupons, Panda Express donated profits from that person’s order. Other restaurants just require the people to say they are here to support the Grayson County Shelter.

What are your main events during the year, or any other events going on in the near future?

Grayson County Shelter’s Main Event of the Year
32nd Annual Charity Gala, Oct. 5, 2019

Rosalind: Our main event of the year is our Annual Charity Gala. This year, the Hilton Garden Inn Event Center is hosting our 32nd Annual Charity Gala on October 5. We have a live band, catered dinner by Hilton, and a silent auction. We raise funds through the silent auction.

We are accepting donations for our silent auction up until Friday, October 4. Companies and sponsors can purchase a table for the auction with their logos displayed. They receive tickets to the Gala based on the amount of their purchase so that they can be a part of the festivities. 

Throughout the year, people can also donate through monthly subscriptions. We have many individuals who donate. People can donate any amount they like from $1 to $500,000.

Justin Lawler, outside linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams, from Pottsboro, Texas, visited our shelter last February 5th. He brought footballs and signed them for the kids, and visited with them. It was a big day for the kids, and they were so excited! Justin is a gracious young man. It was very kind of him to visit us.

All Donations Are Tax-Deductible


Can Be Made Online on Our Website

These Donations Are Always in Demand at the Shelter:

  • Meat
  • Canned meats
  • Canned vegetables
  • Snacks (Granola bars, chips, beef jerky, crackers of all kinds, etc.)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Clothing all sizes (scrubs, flip flops, sweatpants, t-shirts, shoes, socks)
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • New toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Tampons/pads
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish soap
  • Lotion
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Trash bags (13 and 55 gallon)
  • Ziploc bags
  • Coffee, coffee creamer, sugar
  • Breakfast foods (Poptarts, individual packs of oatmeal, pancake mix, maple syrup)
  • Seasonings (garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, vanilla flavor, almond extract)

Contact Information: Grayson County Shelter

The Grayson County Shelter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Grayson County Shelter has not seen one day since they opened that they did not provide a service to someone in need. This means that not only is the shelter open on holidays, but volunteers are at the shelter helping instead of spending time with their loved ones.

331 W. Morton Street
Denison, TX 75020

(903) 465-6041

Contact Information: The Crowded Closet

317 W Morton St
Denison, Texas

(903) 327-8060


1. & 2. Justin Lawler at the Shelter

3. Justin's Signed Football

4. Shelter Yard Decorated for Justin

5. Shelter Volunteers and Residents

6. 2016 Annual Charity Gala

7. Volunteer Appreciation Day

8. Backyard

9.. Kitchen

10. Library/Playroom


Tell us what you think!

Striper Express at Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma Email Updates


Visit our Lake Texoma Sponsors!

Lake Texoma Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Lake Texoma Weather Forecast



Hi: 54

Thursday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 43


Partly Sunny

Hi: 58

Friday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 40


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 57

Saturday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 39


Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 56

Sunday Night

Slight Chance Rain

Lo: 38

Lake Texoma Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 12/13: 618.87 (+1.87)

Lake Texoma Fishing Report from TPWD (Dec. 11)

GOOD. Water stained; 62-64 degrees; 1.90’ high. Striped bass continue to be excellent using slabs, swimbaits, and live bait in deeper water. Largemouth bass are good drifting live baits. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs around large structure in shallow water. Catfish are fair on live shrimp, cut bait, and minnows.