The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Alex Tingquist: The WWJD Guardian

Serving the homeless is more than a job, but a calling for 27-year-old

Published: August 4, 2020   
Aprille Hanson
Alex Tingquist, 27, smiles outside the Clinton School of Public Service June 17. He completed his master’s in public service from the school in May and has spent more than a decade working with the homeless.

Attending the Catholic Charities Summer Institute, a high school diocesan program dedicated to the Church’s social justice teachings, changed Alex Tingquist’s life.

“That was the first time I was really exposed to the issue of homelessness,” the 27-year-old said whose mother Liz is the diocesan youth and campus ministry director.

Soon, he and his friends were distributing nonperishable food and toiletries under the Broadway Bridge.

For about a decade, Tingquist has served the homeless including in Little Rock, Austin, Texas, and in Brussels, Belgium, for the 2019 summer assisting the European Federation of National Organizations. His capstone project, presented in spring 2020, was a feasibility study to transform the former convent at St. Edward Church in Little Rock into housing for homeless college students. A big misconception people have about the homeless is they’re dangerous or a personal problem is holding them back, despite most being just “three paychecks away” from homelessness.

“When you see someone experiencing homelessness make eye contact, smile and wave because all day they’re disregarded as less than human,” he said.

A graduate from the University of Arkansas, he earned a master’s degree in public service from the Clinton School of Public Service in May. The Our Lady of the Holy Souls and the Cathedral of St. Andrew parishioner, both in Little Rock, works as the homeless management information system administrator for Pulaski County Community Services, tracking homelessness and housing instability.

“I just genuinely feel called by Christ to do this work,” Tingquist said. “And to always keep in mind what would Jesus do; he was a servant for all of us. He was especially a servant for people who were outcasts in society.”

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