An Ohio man with a wife and four children found himself in Mount Airy one year ago without a job and with nowhere to live. He said without the Shepherd’s House, he doesn’t know where they would be today.
“I don’t even want to know what I would have done without them,” said Antoine Bender.
The crime rate in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio was skyrocketing, Bender said. He couldn’t find work and wanted to find a safer place to raise his children. At first, he, his wife and their two youngest children moved to Atlanta, Ga. But, they found the crime rate there to be just as bad.
The couple and their two children found themselves in Mount Airy. The Shepherd’s House took them in and immediately started turning their lives around. Bender was sent to Workforce Carolina where he found work right away at Harvest Time Bakery. He was sent to the Department of Social Services where he got gas money to get to and from work.
At the Shepherd’s House, residents live a structured life, according to the Rev. Phil Goble, the executive director of the homeless shelter. They are asked to wake up at a certain time, do chores around the house, like housekeeping. They are taught how to find work and make a household budget. And, they worship God daily.
Bender quickly offered to start cutting the grass there. He said he was so happy to have a place for he and his family to live that the chores were something he looked forward to doing each day.
“When you are in that situation, you need to have responsibility so that you can learn how to make it on your own. I wanted to do everything that anyone needed,” said Bender.
He was worried about getting his teenage children to Mount Airy, but didn’t have the money. They had been staying with relatives in Ohio. He said Goble paid for the teens to get here on a Greyhound bus.
In less than a month, Bender earned enough money for the family to get an apartment on Church Street.
“It’s a great place,” he said of his experience at the Shepherd’s House. “They gave us food and helped us get started. There is a need for this place here.”
After Harvest Time Bakery closed its doors, Bender returned to Workforce Carolina. He is now working at Renfro Corp., but he’s found another job stripping floors at Walmart that he starts soon. He said he wanted a job that was more permanent.
His wife works at Renfro Corp. as well.
The children attend Mount Airy City Schools.
Bender still volunteers at the Shepherd’s House and serves on the board of directors.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.