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March 1, 2014

Restoring hope for homeless

GREENVILLE — Since the Salvation Army opened its transitional living facility in October of 2013, it has helped change the lives of many homeless people in Hunt County.

One such resident is Jeremy Kerrigan.

For Kerrigan, just one month ago, holding down a job and going apartment hunting were the least of his worries. He was living on the streets, looking for a way to get by when he was given a place to stay at the Salvation Army of Greenville’s traditional living facility.

“They’re really helping me out, giving me a place to stay when I had none,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity I didn’t have.”

Kerrigan has been living on the streets since he was 13, when he ran away from his foster home.

After becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol for years, Kerrigan said he almost lost hope until he was taken in by the Salvation Army.

“I’ve almost given up to this world because of human nature. When you’re out there in the streets, there’s not a lot of positive energy out there,” he said, adding that when Sgt. Wes Trueblood and other members of the Salvation Army took him in, they renewed his hope. “They really care. It makes you want to try harder, you know? Instead of giving up.”

Kerrigan said coming from having no structure to meals, a bed and accountability has been a good change.

“It’s not like they baby you,” he said. “There are rules you have to abide by.”

Kerrigan added they have helped him set up a savings account and have taught him the value of saving for a rainy day.

Another positive Kerrigan said he has experienced while at the facility is an accountability partner who goes with him to AA meetings and checks up on him.

“They hooked me up with somebody who is keeping me accountable,” he said. “This is a good, positive environment to be around when you’re in my situation.”

Kerrigan now holds a Bible study every morning with the other men in the traditional living facility.

“Who would have ever thought that?” he said.

Johnny Mullins, a former resident of the facility, said he is also a testament to how his life was changed through the transitional living facility.

“I’m the biggest second chance there is,” he said. “I went from a guy off the streets for the past five years to a dependable employee, a good student and a respected part of the 12 step program.”

Along with working for Peddler’s Pizza in Greenville, Mullins now helps run the cold/emergency shelter at the Salvation Army, which saw a large increase after the ice storm hit in early December of 2013.

Mullins said Trueblood treated him as a person when he came to stay; and now that he has his own place to stay, he has been trying to invest in the community the same way Trueblood invested in him.

“What I was given was an opportunity to seek God and have the freedom to do it,” he said. “I have restored relationships with friends who are now getting their lives together. It gives me an opportunity to meet people who are in need.”

Kerrigan now has a job and is looking to move out of the facility in the next few weeks into an apartment of his own.

“I feel it’s going to stay there; keeping God in my life,” he said, adding that he now helps people who are in a similar situation. “I’m just trying to do the right thing in helping out.”

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