Gatesville: Center helps relatives visiting inmates

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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) For Luselvia Tanguma, the 12 hour drive from Corpus Christi to Gatesville is never is easy.

She visits her daughter, who's serving a 67 year sentence at a state prison unit in Gatesville.

"How often do I cry? every day," said Tanguma.

"She was my only daughter, and those were my only [grandchildren] that I would see every weekend."

She's one of about 2,500 people that have stayed at the Central Texas Hospitality House since it opened in Gatesville a year and a half ago.

In past years people who visited relatives in nearby prisons struggled to find a place to stay in during visits, often having to stay at nearby cities or in cars.

The center helps those people by providing rooms, food, and companionship at no cost.

"You notice their expressions when they walk in the room, they just brighten up and say wow," said hospitality house director James Parrish.

"They carry heavy loads, a lot of them are raising their grandchildren because a family member is prison."

Last April the house's work earned the 2016 Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service award. People like Luselvia say the home makes a difference during what are normally difficult visits.

"I didn't expect nothing like this," said Luselvia. "I've been to another hospitality [home] and it's nothing like this. I just loved it here."

According to the house, more than 84,000 people travel through Gatesville every year to visit inmates.

More than 80 percent of the state's incarcerated women are held in Gatesville detention centers.