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Community Reaches Out to Help Homeless Family

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DURHAM — The search for a place to call home may be over for a homeless family thanks to the generosity of the people who learned of their story.

Just days ago, the future did not look so bright for Gene Garrett, his wife Jackie and their four children. There was no place to go, no money and no food.

Their situation hit rock bottom when Jackie, in an effort to feed her children, was arrested for stealing ground beef.

Her husband Gene and their four childrenwere then turned awayfrom Durham's Community Shelter for Hope because there are no spaces available for single fathers and their children.

Now, thanks to the shelter and an outpouring of support from the community, the entire family may soon have a place to call home.

The shelter says it has convinced the landlord of a Durham house to let the family rent it. The landlord, who lives out of town, still has to sign off on the deal.

"I really appreciate it and will use it in good faith. I'm not going to take it and in a couple of months from now be back in the same situation. That's not my plan," says Jackie Garrett, who is out of jail and back with her family.

Donations from the public will help with the deposit and pay for turning on utilities. It will be up to the Garretts to make it on their own.

"I didn't think it would come out like this, turn out like this," says Gene Garrett. "I didn't ask for this. God sent it down. He blessed me and I appreciate it."

"That's the lesson, to me, that I want everyone to get out of this. Because, it's all about us giving," says Maggie Lee, the shelter's executive director. "If I help one, and you help one and somebody else helps one, the world would not be in the situation it is in. We'd be a better people."

Lee says it was tough for her to turn Garrett and his children away from the shelter, but she had to stick to the rules. She says she has had to turn away eight other families headed by single fathers this year alone.

While there are no plans to build space for homeless fathers and their children in Durham, the Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network says while it is rare, they occasionally have space for this type of situation in their shelters in Raleigh and Durham.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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