In Spring 2020, circumstances forced Curtis Berry and his two children to move from their apartment to his sister’s residence. When the situation there became overcrowded and uncomfortable, Curtis allowed his 14-year-old daughter to stay, while he and his 2-year-old moved out. “It’s been just me and him since he was born,” Curtis explained. “We slept in my car for several nights before I finally let go of my pride and asked for help. How can you look for a job without child care or a place to stay?”
A military veteran, Curtis sought aid from the Homeless Veterans’ Services, which helped him find a job at the Dollar Tree Distribution Center and sent him to apply for food stamps. While there, he heard about Family Promise and immediately applied for shelter assistance. Because he had a car, they were sent to Family Promise of Effingham County.
“Having a safe place to stay while I saved money and found daycare for my son was a huge relief. I was blessed to have found them. Once, I stayed in a shelter in Atlanta and someone stole the shoes off my feet!”
At first, Curtis was a little skittish being the only male parent staying there at the time.
“I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable, but I’m mannerable and considerate, so it worked out fine,” he laughed. “We kept busy with daily chores, taking care of the kids and doing laundry. Churches delivered meals almost every day and we usually ate together as families or, sometimes I’d use that time to be with my son and daughter, after she joined us.”
House supervisors held weekly house meetings and individual check-ins to see how things were going for guests. “They stayed on top of us, but it’s okay, we needed the push! The staff was sweet, but they don’t stand for any trouble while you’re staying there. You’re either going to leave that place a better person, or you’re going to have to leave and figure it out on your own. I watched two other families make it, just like I did. Your life is what you make of it.”
Guests only paid for their personal items and were encouraged to save 70% of their paychecks so that, by October, Curtis and his family were able to move into their own home in Effingham County. Curtis returns to help out at Family Promise whenever he can, and the house supervisors still check in on him as well. “I’d recommend Family Promise to anyone,” he enthused. “They helped me get my family back together, and now we have a stable place to call our own. In our moment of need, they helped us; it’s only right to help them, so they can help the next family!”