“You learn to be thankful for the roof over your head, the food on your table, and the open arms to give you hugs…”
“On December 14, 2012, our family entered the Hillcrest Program. We had 8 Pay Day loans, 2 Title loans, 1 bank loan and we were several months behind on our utilities and rent. To top it off, we had two days to get our belongings out of the apartment we had been staying in…we had been evicted. Our road to Hillcrest was not an easy one. Hillcrest was the only place we could turn to, we had exhausted all of our other options. Our family and friends couldn’t understand the situation we had gotten ourselves into. We had asked many people to take us in or help us out, but they basically blew us off. In their eyes, homelessness didn’t exist. As the bills began to mount, in order to maintain the roof over our heads, Jerry began to turn to payday loan companies and title loan companies to meet our day to day needs. After these loans started eating his paycheck, Jerry turned to Wal-Mart for a part time job in addition to his teaching and coaching positions. During our struggle, Jerry was talking with a social worker at his school and she directed him to Hillcrest. We completed an application and called every day until we got an interview in October. The interview went well, but there were no openings at that time. Finally, after many weeks of praying for a miracle, we were able to move into Hillcrest 2 weeks before Christmas. When we moved into Hillcrest, we put our belongings into storage and placed our cats with a friend. At that point, our friends and family realized the seriousness of our situation. We were homeless.
Our son Joey, who has special needs, had to switch schools in his first year of Kindergarten. The phone rang constantly. People wanted their money. We couldn’t give them a penny until our case manager said we could. We learned to grow thick skin, tell people no and with our case manager’s direction, Jerry had to learn how to not let these companies get to him. I had a grocery list a mile long and our case manager told us to find new ways to cook. I was completely overwhelmed with this lifestyle change which focused on all needs and no wants.
Many people come to Hillcrest with different stories, backgrounds and circumstances. We attended a Hillcrest graduation shortly after we moved in and we felt horrible, we didn’t belong here…we didn’t deserve this opportunity. There were people a lot worse off than us and they made it. From that night on, we decided we would put everything we had into this program.
At Hillcrest you learn to go back to the basics. If you don’t have it, you learn to work with what you do have. The motto, ‘It is what it is’ has stuck with us. Hillcrest has taught us to budget, not eat out, not spend money on stuff we don’t need and how to use and reuse what we have. You learn to live within your means. It is that simple. Hillcrest offers the support you need to get to that point. You learn to be thankful for the roof that is put over your head, the food that goes on your table, the open ear to hear your cries and the open arms to give you the hugs you need.”
“If you’re willing to work hard and follow the rules, Hillcrest can change your life forever…”
“In January 2010 I arrived in Kansas City with the clothes on my back and a very pregnant wife. We moved in with her very unstable and dysfunctional family with the agreement we would leave after getting on our feet.
My daughter was born in February and we were asked to leave soon after because a baby in the house wasn’t something they wanted to deal with. Fortunately we were able to get in contact with Stacy from Hillcrest Ministries and she immediately took action to help us get off the street and into the program where our family was safe and together.
I was 30 years old and until then I never put much effort into following anyone’s rules or any laws. I didn’t think I would make it this time either but with a new baby and a stranger helping us I figured I would give it a shot.
I got an $11 hour job and reluctantly began following Hillcrests program. I had a hard time trusting anyone but soon realized what an awesome opportunity I had. I began to see that I was the cause of my problems and only I could turn things around.
The great thing about Hillcrest is they will hold your hand but you have to do all work. There were several times I wanted to give up and go back to the street where things made more sense and the only rules to follow were my own. .
Meanwhile, through it all, my wife was fighting a court case where prison time was a sure thing and I would soon become a single parent, On top of it all. We graduated the program in July 2010 and in August my wife was sentenced to 10 years and was gone. This is when it got real. I was in a strange city with an infant to take care of alone and was making very little money. I never in my life stepped up to any responsibility and now I was being crushed by them. I didn’t qualify for any assistance so the only help I had was from Hillcrest.
Sometime during this time I found a faith in God and along with Hillcrest I just kept going one day at a time. I worked so hard those first 6 months and sacrificed everything to give myself and my daughter a stable life. I would lay in bed and cry almost every night out of fear of failure and the thought of my child being taken away from me. That fear motivated me to do things I never thought I was capable of. It took a while but everything started coming together and that fear went away. We had food, A roof and the bills were getting paid. The best part was that I was doing it alone. The Government and Hillcrest weren’t doing it.
After a year I moved to Atlanta, GA and my life took off like a rocket. Using the skills and tools I learned while at Hillcrest I have given myself and my daughter a life I never dreamed we would have. I make very good money and live in an amazing neighborhood where we are safe. 3 years ago I was homeless with nothing and I now have a life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I spent many years using drugs and many years in prison and I used to let those things hold me back. Once my attitude changed to one of never giving up and doing whatever it takes to succeed I found a happiness I never knew existed.
Nothing is easy and success seems impossible when your down and out, broke, homeless, on parole or drugs but hard work and a relationship with God will take you places you’ve only dreamed of. I love myself now and most importantly my daughter idolizes me. Instead of seeing a junkie or ex con, people see a man and father that they respect, trust and have confidence in. It all started with a willingness to change and working with Hillcrest. If you’re willing to work hard and follow the rules (that aren’t even that bad) Hillcrest can change your life forever.”