Brandon Burrell is 35 years old. He lives and works in Richmond, VA after successfully completing an inpatient rehabilitation program a year ago.
I first found out about HELP when I was 21 or 22. I had been living with my mom, and I was selling drugs. When she found weed in the house, she kicked me out. So I was bouncing from one place to another, staying with different friends. I was bouncing from job to job, too. I didn’t have any skills for a job that paid enough for me to get my own place. I was selling and using drugs, and drinking heavily. As a young man, I already felt like I was at a dead end.
My mom took me to the (A Night’s Welcome) shelter one day. That was my first experience with HELP. When I could pass the breathalyzer, which you had to do in order to stay there, then I’d have a place for the night. I didn’t stay every night, though. I wasn’t interested in stopping drugs or alcohol at that time in my life– I was just trying to get a job that paid enough to get me out of my situation. Also, I felt like as a homeless person I was looked down upon, just part of a herd of sheep that moved from one place to another. I was a loner, and didn’t want to impose on anyone, but also felt like there was no one who really cared too much about me as a person.
I went to the shelter on and off for 11 years. I was in survival mode for a long time. It took about two years before I started to utilize the services that HELP had to offer, like assistance with finding work. I still preferred to be on my own, though, and often stayed outside even when the shelter was open. I met Matt (HELP’s Executive Director) around that time. He is nonjudgmental. He used to drive around to find me if I hadn’t been at the shelter for a while, and would check in on me. He’d let me know what was going on at HELP and made me feel like he cared about me as a person. He knew where I stayed and would just make it a point to come by and keep me in the loop on whatever was happening.
Eventually, my circumstances caught up with me and I served time in jail. As part of my probation agreement, I had to either find a job and housing for myself, or enter a rehabilitation program. I had no problem finding work, but getting a place to stay was another issue altogether… so I said yes to inpatient treatment. I moved to Richmond and that’s where I am now. I work full time, have a few side jobs, and have an apartment. I see the same kinds of triggers here that I saw in Hampton, though, and know that I don’t want to stay here long-term. I don’t want those triggers to take me back to where I was before. I’m looking to the future, thinking about what I want to do next, where I want to live, what I’ll do for work. I don’t want to go back to the way my life was before I went to HELP. I’m moving forward.
A Hampton high school senior has made it his mission to provide coats for the homeless each year. This winter, he collected over 1,800.
Andrew Sutherland, a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, got an early start in social ministry. His parents and other church members provided sandwiches for the homeless, passing out food to passers-by in Phoebus. One winter day, a man stopped for a sandwich and asked if there were any coats. Andrew was 7, and wanted to buy the man a coat. When his mother told him they couldn’t buy coats for everyone, he came up with another idea. His coat drive started that day.
As active church members, Andrew’s family began collecting coats for the homeless by asking their neighbors at Gloria Dei. Soon, the drive grew to include donations from his school and the general public thanks to a “drive by and drop off” station, held in the church parking lot on weekends. Andrew’s mother, Jennifer, explained the process:
“As Andrew’s understanding of the needs of the homeless has grown, so has his drive. We get donations of toiletries and other clothing items now, and he hopes to add a clothing closet in the future so that people in search of work can find what they need to wear for job interviews.”
Since he started collecting coats almost 10 years ago, Andrew has brought his donations to HELP, Inc. in Hampton. HELP is a nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to provide shelter, healthcare, and support services to Hampton and Newport News residents. The HELP winter shelter program, “A Night’s Welcome”, is supported by dozens of area churches and businesses and operates annually from mid-November through March. The nonprofit has distributed coats and supplies to homeless clients through the shelter as well as their Day Center at 429 Buckroe Avenue and the HELP Medical and Dental Clinic at 1320 Lasalle Avenue.
Andrew, now a senior at Hampton Christian School, has plans to attend college next year– but his mission will continue. His parents plan to keep the program going with community support.
Now that we’ve felt the first cool mornings of the fall season, we’re reminded that not everyone in our community enjoys the comforts of a warm home. Thankfully, we all have a way to help our brothers and sisters dealing with homelessness–to support HELP’s A Night’s Welcome. Our winter shelter program provides a warm, safe place to sleep and hot meals for those in need. And we can’t do that without your hands and hearts! We depend on thousands of volunteer hours from hundreds of volunteers every year to help with everything from moving linens to helping with check-in to preparing and serving meals.
A Night’s Welcome will open at Central United Methodist Church on November 17th, and will continue there for the first 60 days of the program. Other locations are not yet finalized, but we will share information as soon as it’s available.
We also have exciting plans for expanding our Day Center in a new building and hope to host a portion of A Night’s Welcome there. Thanks to everyone who has already given their time to help with our work at the new facility!
With Thanksgiving not too far away, we are reminded just how much we have to be thankful for. We are grateful to so many supporting congregations, volunteers, and donors who have allowed us to continue our life-saving and life-changing work here at HELP. We are grateful for the volunteers who fill the food pantry, feed our neighbors at the day center, donate supplies all year, and show up to serve night after night through the cold months of winter.
May God help us all to show kindness and unrivaled hospitality as the extension of our commitment to the way of Christ. May He use us to bring home and comfort to the abandoned and forsaken parts of creation.
Bob Johnson got fed up in 2019 and decided to do something about it.
Bob is retired and lives in Norfolk. He is accustomed to seeing people on the roadways of his hometown, holding makeshift signs asking for work or money… but in 2019, he decided he was going to find out about the homeless population, which seemed to be growing before his eyes. He figured that learning how they got there could aid in some way to help them off the street. His research led him to an important discovery– that in many cases, providing a means of transportation is the way out of homelessness. And with that realization, 757 Bike Mission was born.
With a bike, you can get to a job, the doctor’s office, school, the grocery store. Reliable transportation makes for a reliable employee. Reliable employees are able to rent housing. There’s a ripple effect associated with the gift of a bike.
Bob has been changing the trajectory of people’s lives, one bike at a time, since October 2019. He refurbished and donated 49 bikes his first year; last year he gave away 149. He’s already given away 32 bikes this month to over 5 area nonprofits, including HELP. The impact is profound, and immediate, to our clients who are struggling to get to work on the bus or on foot.
We can’t wait to present these bikes to their new owners.
To learn more about Bob’s work with 757 Bike Mission, click here.
So you’re looking for affordable healthcare that covers at least primary care and maybe even some dental care. You go to the Marketplace and find that you can qualify for a plan that might cost you around $50 a month, but there’s a $10,000 deductible attached to it. “Well,” you think, “$50 a month is doable and I don’t see a doctor that often–just when absolutely necessary.” But what happens when something does come up–and it will come up? Your out-of-pocket cost before your insurance picks up the tab is your monthly premium (in this case, $50 x 12 months = $600) and your full deductible ($10,000 in this example) for a grand total of $10,600 this year. That means you’re actually paying over $880 a month for coverage all in. WOW!
The HELP Clinics have your solution–the same quality care you’ve come to expect from any provider at a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $25 per visit. Even if you saw our dentist 4 times in a year ($25 a visit x 4 = $100) and came in for 4 primary care visits ($10 a visit x 4 = $40), that’s less than $150 per year.
So the question remains: Would you rather pay an average of $15 a month for healthcare or $880 a month? The choice is yours! What can $10,000 in savings help you do?