Kearney Center will soon welcome back clients, permanent housing remains goal

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 2:31 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Kearney Center has been closed for a year now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, a spokesperson with the center says as soon as April 1, they will begin to welcome back clients to the center, at first with a group of 100 or so.

While the Kearney Center had roughly 400 clients sent to temporary homes, like motels, hotels and apartments, staff continued to make permanent housing and giving others a new start to life the priority.

Since August, the Kearney Center has found permanent solutions for 83 people. In February alone, the center helped 13 people find permanent homes.

They hope to move another 200 in the months to come, but it’s a process that takes a village.

“I used it as a stepping stone, you know. Just because I was homeless doesn’t mean I was hopeless,” said Brian Pearis.

He didn’t always live like this: Last year, he was suffering and ended up at the Kearney Center wanting help.

“I easily get frustrated and I fall off course, and start drinking or get high or just give up on life, but I was like, ‘No, not this time,’” he said.

That’s when the center was moving clients, like Pearis, to one of three sites that provided medical attention, food, therapy and a place to lay their heads.

For Pearis, the motel was a turning point.

“I just prayed, did a lot of prayer,” he recalled. “Then I started losing weight, working out, eat well, and then my whole mind and spirit, everything was going 1000.”

The Kearney Center helped him get a job and his own home.

“At first I just got here and I boohooed. I cried,” he said, beginning to shed tears. “I was so happy I didn’t know what to do. Because this has never happened to me before. I never had my own place.”

“We have really been able to continue to transform lives, and give people second chances and move them from poverty to self-sufficiency,” said Kearney Center Chief Development Officer Holly Bernardo.

The center took out a $2 million loan and leaned on community donations, like SharedGrace, and their welcome home kits, filled with utensils, plates and more.

“To know that we can walk alongside someone on their journey, and when they move into their forever home, to provide a little material support it’s everything,” Trinity United Methodist Church Director of Discipleship and Adult Ministries Nick Quinton said.

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