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December 22, 2002

Homeless for the holidays

From: Martinsville Reporter Times, IN - 22 Dec 2002

Shelters offer safe haven for people trying to get back on their feet

By Loretta Brown,
Hoosier Times


Nichole Berry and two of her three children are living at Ruthie's Place, a Bedford shelter, until she can get on her feet.

Without the shelter, the family would be homeless for the holidays.

The threesome moved into Ruthie's Place two weeks ago. Before that, Berry and her three children bounced from home to home of Bloomington relatives.

"My mom also is having a hard time," said the 24-year-old Berry. "I put myself in a shelter because people can't help you when they are having problems."

Berry's family lives in Bloomington. She attended a school for the deaf in Illinois. She wound up in California. There, she was living with the father of her youngest child when he was arrested on drug-related charges. Berry believes he is innocent and wants to help him, but she needed help herself. Being pregnant, deaf and on her own in California with two children became too challenging.

She returned home and lived with relatives. She put her name on a waiting list at a Bloomington shelter, and is next in line for assistance. Her eldest child, Jaminica Goodson, 5, is staying with grandparents while Berry, son Richard Wright III, 3, and daughter Jocyln, 8 months, are temporarily staying at Ruthie's Place.

"It's like I'm on a wild trip," Berry said after she removed Jocyln from a highchair and rocked her on her lap. "I'm doing what it takes to survive and to protect my family. I feel like I'm a nomad. I love them (her three children) so much, I'll do anything for them. They come first."

Berry wants to go back to school to learn how to operate a business. She believes her disability stands in the way of an employer hiring her.

She thinks about creating some kind of a place where other deaf people can congregate.

"I have a dream of opening something for deaf people," she said. "My goal is to go to Bloomington, go to school, accomplish something and help my relatives. I want a stable life. It will take time, but I'm working my way up."

Berry said Ruthie's Place staff members are doing everything they can to help her.

"I'm thankful they could take me in," she said. "They make me feel at home here."