Bonnie Busbee

Conroe resident Bonnie Busbee has volunteered at the local Salvation Army kitchen nearly every Wednesday for about three decades.

Conroe resident Bonnie Busbee has volunteered at the local Salvation Army kitchen nearly every Wednesday for about three decades.

Bonnie Busbee, a 39-year resident of Conroe, has been volunteering in the city’s Salvation Army kitchen for 28 years.

“It’s just something I do,” Busbee said. “I’m going to do it until I can’t. It’s just a really good feeling.”

Busbee is a mother of two children who formerly worked full-time in real estate. Now she works part-time in addition to volunteering.

“I always wanted to [get involved], but once my last child went off to college, I thought, ‘Now is the time to do it,’ so I did it,” Busbee said.

Nearly every Wednesday, Busbee and a handful of other women from Sacred Heart Catholic Church prepare and serve food for the homeless.

“Our church has always worked with the Salvation Army because they also take care of people,” Busbee said. “A lady named Mrs. Friend is the one [who] got this thing started probably about 30 years ago. She went to all the churches and got the people started on it. So when I came, I worked with them probably about a year and a half before I took over.”

The Salvation Army in Conroe provides overnight lodging quarters for homeless individuals in Montgomery County. On any given night, about 75 people can comfortably fit in the bunks provided, shelter Manager David Jenett said.

“They’re out to help people, and it’s a Christian-type atmosphere,” Busbee said. “I like that, and the people down here, when we’re doing the soup kitchen, are very nice to our people.”

When there is inclement weather in the area, the Conroe location is equipped with extra mattresses to welcome additional people inside. Busbee said kitchen volunteers have served close to 800 people when major rainfall events occurred in the area.

At Sacred Heart, church members are invited to donate food and money on a regular basis so Busbee can feed all who request a meal.

“I’ve been told we serve the best food because we really do have a pretty good budget,” Busbee said. “I know some of the other churches can only give [clients] one plate. We [serve] four weeks out of the month, and if there’s a fifth Wednesday, Pilgrims [Rest] Baptist Church comes in and does it because they can only do it once every so often.”

Although the kitchen is open for those in need of a meal, not everyone who dines at the Salvation Army is homeless, Busbee said.

“There’s a handful that might come for the social end of it,” Busbee said. “We have those that come in and keep on going. And then we have those who come here and, depending on what we serve, they pull out their phone and call their buddy [to join them]. It’s just kind of a supplement to their income for the most part.”

A new facility is under construction to supplement Conroe’s Salvation Army, where a new kitchen will be housed. Busbee said she has seen the number of mouths to feed fluctuate during her years of volunteering. However, as Montgomery County’s population continues to grow, the need for the Salvation Army’s assistance has increased.

“We’re looking forward to our new kitchen,” Busbee said. “We used to serve quite a few people—sometimes up to 400. What’s happened in the last few years is there’s other places now feeding them breakfast and they can stay in the building, whereas here I think they have to be out by a certain time to go look for a job, which is good.”

Busbee said she hopes to see the homeless population decrease in Montgomery County in the future. She also said she encourages more people in the community to get involved with the Salvation Army.

“Hopefully, we won’t see so many clients, but right now they need our help,” Busbee said.

By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.