Homeless couple stranded in Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Ralph and Jill Helton arrived in Gulfport on Sunday at the Greyhound terminal.

Ralph Helton said, "We thought we had some work down here, so we spent all the money we had, a little over $500 on bus tickets to get here."

Ralph said they thought someone they had worked with before on the coast would give them a job. That person didn't answer his phone, and they ended up sleeping outside Feed My Sheep in Gulfport.

"We slept on the concrete, yes sir. Which my wife had to help me off the concrete this morning because of my back problems; Social Security disabled me."

Ralph and Jill had lived between Biloxi, Gulfport and Long Beach for 17 years before Hurricane Katrina washed away everything they had owned. They ended up moving to Boise, Idaho. The disabled veteran said it's been a struggle.

Helton stated, "There's just not a lot out there. People who have jobs are keeping them."

The husband and wife ended up at International Relief and Development. That organization contacted Rudy Valdez of Shekinah Glories Ministry.

"I opened the door up at my three bedroom trailer," Valdez said.

Valdez is going to allow the Heltons to stay in his trailer until they can secure enough money for a bus ticket back to Idaho.

He said, "These people aren't bad people. They're just people who get stuck in between the cracks."

Helton was elated for the offer from Valdez.

"It's going to be a blessing because we haven't taken a bath. I'm sorry to say that, but for three or four days, so I mean this is going to be a blessing. A prayer, we needed it. Thank God he's going to help us out."

Valdez said this is a sign of the times. He told me he's had to turn down six to 10 people a week because he doesn't have the proper facility to take them in.

"They expect the economy to be here on the coast really strong, but when they get here, then it flat lines. There's nothing there, but things will get better. I have faith in God that things will get a lot better."

Helton said the only thing he has left is pride.

"I can't hold my hand out and ask for favors. I just can't do that. I don't have that in me. I lost a lot of things during Katrina, but my pride is all I've got left, sir. I just can't lose that."

AJ Giardina said that after his story ran, the couple had enough money to make it back to Idaho. If anyone would like to help the Shekinah Glories Ministry, you can contact Rudy Valdez at 228-224-8578.

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