Bernie worked up until last year as a truck driver making over $50,000 a year. He divorced after 30 years of marriage and that compounded with “self-medicating the pain away” resulted in the loss of his job. In less than six months he was forced to leave his family and a comfortable home with all the bills paid and move into to a homeless shelter.
“I’ve met people who were former white collar professionals at shelters in Pensacola and Nashville,” he said. “They thought it could never happen to them either. Believe me it can.”
Bernie is using the skills he acquired as a newspaper reporter/editor/bureau chief at papers in New Iberia, Abbeville, and Lafayette to teach other residents how to read, write and fill out resumes.
“I’d like to help them present themselves for resumes,” he said.
Bernie would like for the public to know how important it is to support the shelter.
“I really want to thank the Crowley Rotary Club for being the lead service group in building and administering the new shelter,” he said. “Our grand opening is set for November 22 so mark your calendar.”
Bernie added that he quit abusing drugs and alcohol and that he is now dedicating his life to church mission work.
Sherrie grew up in Carencro and moved to New Orleans at 17 with her mom and dad. She attended Loyola University where she graduated with a degree in liberal studies and also got a nursing degree from Delgado College. She was in an abusive marriage and ran into financial problems when “God opened the door for her to come to The Welcome House.”
“People need to realize that God is always there,” she said. “He may not answer immediately but you have to have faith.”
A former teacher in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish, Sherrie keeps a positive outlook and has an inspirational message for those who may be undergoing the same problems that she has experienced.
“Everyone comes down for a while and may be in need of help and services,” she said. “The people at The Welcome House have taught me to regain my strength, my health, and to bring me back up.”
“I’ll never give up because I have faith in the Lord and I keep on praying.”
Theresa is a Eunice native who grew up in a close, large family with eight brothers. She quit school in the eleventh grade though she is planning to get her GED in the near future. She is married to another resident of The Welcome House and has recently developed a better relationship with her daughter. She has high words of praise for Rev. Roy Kibodeax who spends tireless hours working with the people at The Welcome House.
“He is so inspirational,” she said. “This place would not be here if it weren’t for him.”
Theresa is thankful to The Welcome House for helping her “learn how to deal with people and, more importantly, showing her how to find God.” Her dream is to one day have a home in the country but for now she is happy just to “work at The Welcome House and make it all it can be.”
“People need to know that with God you can overcome any obstacles,” she said. “If you seek God everything just falls into place.”
After conducting interviews on Sunday, the Crowley Post Signal’s Howell Dennis and Welcome House Volunteer Coordinator Mary Zaunbrecher were on the way back to their cars when the sound of a piano brought them into The Welcome House church where they came across a man playing all by himself. He introduced himself as Truemack and said that he had been playing since he was three years old.
“I’ve always been humming along to songs . . . singing Christmas songs and country music,” he said. “The first song I ever learned was ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’.”
Truemack is an emotional man who often plays the piano during dinner and church services at The Welcome House. He discussed how he has seen many deaths during his life and wants people to know that “they have to understand before they can be understood.”
“God speaks to everyone,” he said. “Here I’ve learned how to understand his voice and to live by the words he tells me.”