City of Tyler worker goes from homeless to employee of the year

City of Tyler worker goes from homeless to employee of the year

It takes a crew of just twelve people to process the 30 million gallons of fresh water that pass through the Lake Palestine Water Treatment plant every day.

Kirk Sipes is quick to tell you he's just part of the team.

"My job here is to make your job easier," he said to his supervisor as we were arriving.

Sipes does a little bit of everything. From fixing a winch to making sure all those chemicals the rest of us can't pronounce get into--or stay out of--our tap water.

"I love this job because when you come in every day you never know what's going to be happening," Sipes said.

He loves it so much he won Tyler employee of the year. But you're still probably wondering why Sipes is so special, and that's because a year ago he was homeless.

"I left a bad situation from a former life, came down here and essentially ran out of gas," he said.

By then it was what some would call "sink or swim."

"And I much prefer swimming than I do sinking," Sipes said.

In that pool of life, Sipes hit his stride the day he walked into the Gateway to Hope day shelter and met Pat Mallory.

"When you walk in the door, if Pat's there, the first thing that's going to happen is you're going to get hugged," Sipes said.

"And if you believe in them, they then believe in themselves," Mallory said.

Mallory called Sipes Gateway's first success story--and certainly not the last.

"After Pat pointed me to Church under a bridge, I started going there, got re-acquainted with what I consider true Christians," Sipes said.

What was when Sipes started to believe in himself the way Mallory did from day one. Then things fell into place.

"This is the greatest job I've ever had, and I thank God every day that I have this job," Sipes  And I thank Pat every day."

Sipes continues to volunteer at Gateway to Hope.


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