Greg first came to Catholic Charities by chance. He read the sign outside the Harrelson Center and saw Catholic Charities. He was welcomed by staff and shared why he needed help. Greg was going to a job interview that day and had spilled coffee all over his shirt. He desperately needed a clean shirt. His only request was that it had to be pink, his favorite color.

Emilie Hart, Cape Fear Regional Director, knew another agency within the Harrelson Center, Philippians 3, might be a good resource for Greg. She went down to their office and was able to find him a nice long- sleeved pink shirt. Since that day, Greg became a special friend to the Catholic Charities family.

Greg has faced many challenges in his life. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, struggles with other mental illnesses, and was a survivor of Hurricane Harvey which caused him to relocate from Texas to Wilmington right before Hurricane Florence impacted the area.

After receiving such a warm welcome, Greg began visiting the office regularly and accessing the emergency food pantry and received personal care items each time. He also looked out for others by taking extra items for friends he met around town. That is the kind of person Greg is.

Each time Greg visited the office, he would update staff on new resources or agencies where he was receiving help. He was driven to become self-sufficient and enrolled himself with Step Up Wilmington, another partner agency located in the Harrelson Center, where he received employment assistance. He also worked with RHA and Vocational Rehab.

In order to access all these services, Catholic Charities provided Greg with a bike, helmet, and lock. Catholic Charities was also able to get Greg bus tickets through a grant from WAVE Transit.

“I still can see his face that day. He had the biggest smile ever!” shared Patricia Gutierrez Tootoo, a Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager. “He was beyond excited because the helmet had a night-time light.”

To reduce any further transportation barriers, Greg received WAVE bus tickets for those long-distance meetings or late evening commutes. Greg’s months of hard work paid off when he received a housing voucher through HUD and it didn’t take him long to find a place.

Now that Greg had secured permanent housing, Catholic Charities was able to provide the money Greg needed for his deposit and first month’s rent. One of the first items Greg received for his new home was a handmade quilt donated through a special quilting project for Hurricane Florence survivors.

Through all of his challenges, Greg never gave up and had faith throughout the process. Although he faced many obstacles and had moments that could bring anyone down, he came back stronger.

“I admire Greg,” shared Tootoo. “He has not let anything or even mother nature stopped him from achieving his goals.”

This project received support from the North Carolina Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief Fund.