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Emergency response team helps clothe, find jobs for those displaced after Economy Inn condemnation

Hungry and cold to fed and clothed. It's been a week of opportunity for the 150 people who were kicked out of the Eco...

Posted: Feb. 3, 2018 11:04 AM
Updated: Feb. 4, 2018 10:29 AM

Hungry and cold to fed and clothed. It's been a week of opportunity for the 150 people who were kicked out of the Economy Inn on Augusta Rd.

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That night, families stood on the curb with all of their belongings wondering where they would go next.

Shelters were full and they had no time to plan, but in nine days, many of them said they've experienced a lifestyle change they could have never imagined.

For Craig Dunbar, life has done a 180 just in the last week. He shows off his new shoes that he said might not be important to some people, but to him the donated sneakers symbolize hope.

"We would walk all the way from the Economy Inn to Rutherford Road to the labor finders and that was just so we could make a few dollars so we could pay for our room every day," said Dunbar.

He and his roommate would get up in the middle of the night to begin their three hour walk. He said you could see his feet through the soles of his shoes, but it's what had to be done if he wanted a roof over his head.

"It's all we knew at that time, it's all we could basically afford," Dunbar said.

Even if it meant sleeping next to roaches and mice, but as Dunbar hangs up his donated suits, he's grateful Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church and the community were there to help get him back on his feet.

"They took us to the job fair and we all got hired on," Dunbar said.

Jobs, toiletries, clothes and most importantly three meals a day. Dunbar said it's a lifestyle many of those displaced had never seen.

Susan Stall said she was in the church hallway when she realized she had to step in and help. She saw an elderly gentleman, curled up sleeping on an air mattress.

"He brought me some of his things and so I didn't even think about the fact that it might not be a good idea to dump everything out on the floor of my laundry room and everything was completely filled with huge bed bugs," Stall said.

Stall brought to tears just thinking about it, she said this man had no family, nowhere to go, and somehow he reminded her of her father. She lives just one mile away from the Economy Inn and that's when she realized their paths were always so close to crossing.

"My husband asked him if he used to sit outside on a bucket," Stall said. "Jerry said yes and my husband saw him every time he drove by the Economy Inn."

That man has been placed in housing and now stall and dozens of others, including Senator Karl Allen, are trying to make sure the other 149 are just as lucky.

"This is a mammoth effort that has taken place because of this crisis effort that was created," Allen said. "We cannot leave these activists, we cannot leave Nicholtown Church, we cannot leave them out in the cold. We must embrace them."

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