Coast Family Gets Through Hardship With A "Fresh Start"

To say the Savitts family has gone through some trying times over the past year and a half might be an understatement. The couple's home was robbed three times in less then two months. During one of the robberies, Shelley Savitts was shot in the head.

"I was standing at the stove, and I had a piercing pain in the side of my head," Shelly says.  "I couldn't see. I couldn't hear. I just hit the floor. The kids head the noise, and I had no earthly idea that I had been shot or anything."

Burglars burned the family home during a third robbery.

"He told police that he thought he left finger prints. We didn't have any where else to go."

The couple and their three children now live in a one room addition added to a relatives house. Hard times got even worse for the family a few months later when Shelley's husband Gene was seriously hurt in motorcycle accident.

"The bike throw him, and he broke his neck, and now he's paralyzed from the shoulders down," Shelly says.

"You never dream of something like this, not being able to provide for my family," Gene Savitts says.  "I can't hold them when I want to hold them and make things feel better for them."

The family dreams of having their own home again, one that's handicap accessible for Gene.

Tim Jackson, Fresh Start Founder; Right now through the State of Mississippi there is nothing that actually addresses the needs of anybody that was a vibrant family moving through life and then all of a sudden has had a catastrohpy.(19:39)

The Fresh Start Program aims to help families like the Savitts' realize that dream. It's a cooperative effort by the Consumer Credit Counseling Service and Mississippi's Home Coporation which to help families like the Savitts.

"This program isn't for everybody," Fresh Start Founder Tim Jackson says.  "It's designed for a select few who've had tragedies."

Fresh Start will help the Savitts build a new home for free. Volunteers will do the work with materials and money donated by area businesses. Those businesses will be repaid as the Savitts make the mortgage payments.

"If the contributors give us anything in materials services and goods over $500, they actually become a participant in Gene and Shelley's life," Jackson says.

And they'll give this family a chance to reclaim at least part of the life they lost.

"As it stands right now, I don't know any other way that we would be able to have a home for our children to grow up in," Shelly Savitts says.

The Savitt's home will be the first project for Fresh Start. It requires them to participate in financial planning with Consumer Credit Counseling. Any business or person who contributes more than 500 dollars in money or material will get progress reports and a return on their investment four times a year.

If you want to help, send donations to the Savitt's Housing Fund at any branch of Union Planters Bank. To donate materials to build the house call (601) 749-2164. Or for more information on the Fresh Start program email Community Quest Financial Services at .