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Homeless to hopeful: how one family found a way out

Posted at 5:21 PM, Nov 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 00:01:11-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Imagine the stress of not knowing where you're going to sleep tonight or how you're going to feed your kids. Families here in Corpus Christi have lived that struggle every day. Thankfully, many have been able to seek the help of homeless shelters, and a find a way out.

KRIS 6 News followed a family who's been through that struggle. It's a family who has beaten the odds, after being homeless for seven months. Like many families in Corpus Christi, they learned that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to bounce back.

For more than half a year, Donell Brown and his four sons were living in hotels, unsure of where they would sleep at night.

Today, Brown, 33, is a happy father who is finally able to put a roof over his childrens' heads. Now, his kids enjoy playing outdoors and eating dinner together, but times weren't always this easy.

"It was very hard," said Brown. "There were days when I would just sit there and cry because I didn't know what I was going to do."

Earlier in the year, Brown and his boys, ages 8 to 12, were homeless.

They moved in and out of hotels until Brown ran out of money. Then they stayed at a friend's home, who offered them a warm place for the night. Sometimes Brown would sleep in a nearby park, with his kids sleeping inside a home, but they always wondered where they would go the next day.

"There were times where I just wanted to give up," said Brown. "But these guys (my kids) are so amazing, they wouldn't let me. Like they just kept on it."

Unfortunate circumstances got them to that point. Brown was very open with KRIS 6 News about his story and what got him to where he is now.

His mom had custody of his kids when he was sent to prison for a couple years in 2013.

When he got out, he battled drug and alcohol addiction, and struggled to make ends meet. When his mom died in 2018, he learned how to step up and be a father to his four sons.

"When I got them, I didn't know anything about being a parent," said Brown. "I didn't know what I was doing at all."

Brown got a job, but still scraped for pennies to provide for his family. Brown said he would go without food for a week, but would always make sure his kids had food to eat. At one point, he even turned to crime to put food on the table.

"I hate to say it, but there was even a time when I was selling drugs for a friend so my kids could have a place to stay," he said.

It was at that moment, Brown knew he had to find real help.

"I was torn in pieces," said Brown. "And I found The Salvation Army which was a Godsend for me."

For four months, The Salvation Army provided food and clothes for his boys.

The shelter helped them get on their feet before getting their own place

"They helped me out so much," said Brown. "They helped me out more than anybody has helped me in my life."

Sometimes Brown even struggled getting his kids to and from school. But last school year, West Oso ISD worked with the family so the four children could get an education.

With the shelter's help, and each other, they got by. Now, they have much more security than they did seven months ago.

"These guys right here, they're just so strong," said Brown. "Like they helped me through everything. And they did things that I wouldn't even expect for a child to do."

The Salvation Army helps Brown pay his rent and some bills. Next, Brown says he wants to buy a home and a car for his family.

For those interested in helping Brown, you can call The Salvation Army at 361-884-9497, and ask for Monica Barrera.

The Salvation Army in Corpus Christi is open 365 days a year, and has been helping those in need since 1908. It's one of four local homeless shelters in the city that provide help on a daily basis. There are also two day shelters people can go to for assistance.