About 14 years ago, Carmelita Brown and her four children boarded a train for Texas. They sold everything they owned in their Rochester, NY home for the train tickets.
Brown decided that living close to her sister in Texas would be a fresh start for their family and would allow for many additional opportunities.
“My sister said ‘Come down and you can live with us for as long as you want.’”
So, that’s exactly what they did; at least for a short while.
“We discovered right away that our families were at different levels and that we would need our own place,” Brown said. “They had one child and I had four. We simply needed our own space.”
Living on her own again was nothing new for Brown. She had escaped an alcoholic and abusive husband years before in New York. She knew she could do it again, but it would be tough.
“The first week I moved here, I found a job. And, the second week, I started working,” she said. “I was blessed.”
But, the small amount of money that Brown had was spent on new school clothes for her four children. She had nothing left to help pay for deposits for a new apartment or to furnish the apartment with furniture and other necessities.
Brown eventually made arrangements with the apartment complex to get into a new apartment home with her family and found a way to get it furnished. But, the expenses made it hard for her to keep up.
“I could barely keep food on the table,” she said.
Brown’s electricity was turned off because she was unable to pay it. She asked the electricity provider if they knew of an agency that could help her. The company recommended Interfaith Caring Ministries.
“I applied and told them how I got into the situation,” she said.” They gave me a few bags of food and helped me turn my lights back on.”
Brown was very grateful and vowed to pay back Interfaith Caring Ministries for its help.
“I said ‘Somehow, some way, I want to repay them,’” she said.
Brown has decided to repay Interfaith Caring Ministries by volunteering her time and encouraging others to help the agency. She has helped spearhead a food drive for two years with her employer MEI Technology. In 2006, the company donated about six boxes of food to Interfaith Caring Ministries. And, earlier this year, the company donated about four boxes of food to the organization. The food will go to local families in need.
The company food drives inspired Brown to help further. She organized a food drive at her apartment complex and asked the community managers for permission.
“They were very supportive and some of their vendors donated gift cards for things like toilet paper and other necessities,” Brown said. “I’d like to get some of the other nearby apartment complexes to do the same thing.”
Brown hopes that other people in the community realize what an impact Interfaith Caring Ministries had on her life.
“I just needed a little help getting back on my feet,” she said. “And, they were there to help.”
Interfaith Caring Ministries will host its Festival of Trees Nov. 28-Nov. 30 at South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center. Proceeds from the events will allow the agency to continue to help area families become self sufficient.
“That’s what God has us do. We are all family. Some of us have less than others and we should share,” Brown said.
The festivities for the Festival of Trees will begin with the Holiday in the City Style Show and luncheon on Nov. 28. General admission tickets are $50.
From 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 28 there will be “Christmas with Santa” open house. Families can view beautifully decorated trees, enjoy cookies and have photos made with Santa.
The Festival of Trees Dinner and Holiday Ball will be held on Nov. 30. Tickets for this event are $80. For more information about the Festival of Trees, please contact Arden Stone, Event Coordinator for ICM at (281) 332-3881.