In 1994, Eunice Chambless was serving as a chaplain at the Robertson Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Abilene. One Saturday night, as she was walking to her car, she met a mother in the parking lot on the verge of tears. The mother had arrived at the prison after visiting hours and was told she could visit her husband the next day, but would have to stay the night. With small children in the back seat, and no money for a hotel, the mother was faced with the possibility of spending the night in her car.
Eunice was heartbroken for the mother and made arrangements for a safe place for her and her children to stay for the night. The following Monday, Eunice went to visit Truman Turk, director of the Abilene Association of Baptist churches, to help build a home for families in the same situation. Phil Christopher, then-pastor of First Baptist Church of Abilene, recalled, “she was concerned about the people who came and had no resources. She believed this was something we needed to do as the body of Christ.”
Within six weeks, Eunice had raised the majority of the money needed to build a hospitality house. Through partnership of local churches, the Abilene Baptist Association, and construction by Texas Baptist Men, the hospitality house was built directly across from the John Middleton Unit.
In December 1998, the Eunice Chambless Hospitality House was dedicated and one month later, the doors were open to serve families. With rooms for individuals and families, a kitchen and dining room and a large gathering place for fellowship and rest, the house was a welcomed respite for traveling families.
The purpose of the house was established “to promote the public welfare and alleviate the hardships of the disadvantaged by ministering to the social, physical and religious needs of the families of the prisoners incarcerated in the penal system of the State of Texas, and to the employees of that system.”