GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After two years of living in the woods in a tent, Regina Price is back home again.
Regina was homeless less than a week ago, but thanks to a grand act of kindness, life is good. "I have so much joy inside of me and it's contained that I'm so afraid that if I let it loose it's going to explode," she exclaimed. "I didn't think that anyone would come forth to think about someone like me to help."
Price moved into a two bedroom townhouse this week with the assistance of the Open Doors Homeless Coalition.
There were plenty of hugs to go around between her and the organization's members.
The nonprofit agency is based at the knight center in Gulfport. Case workers there took Regina under their wings a couple of weeks ago, and with a lot of dedication and hard work, they were able to secure her housing.
At the Open Doors Homeless Coalition, more than 600 homeless people have been placed in housing in the past year.
This is a hand up, not a hand out, as noted by Mary Simons, the group's executive director. "Our goal is to empower people. Empower people to eventually shut this door to homelessness and never become homeless again. In that empowerment, they have certain responsibilities to move forward and do what they can in this process, and we're there to fill the gaps."
Also filling in the gaps are rental property owners like Bob Brandhorst.
"It doesn't cost the rental property manager anything and it gets people off of the streets. It gives then a second chance at life. That's what it's all about," he said.
For case manager Robert Harrison, a big hug is what it's all about. "I really find fulfillment in every day being able to help other people. That's why I do what I do."
Regina spoke the words that mean everything. "I love you all for everything that you all have done for me. You took me from nothing and brought me to something to try and keep me here," she said.
There's no doubt that Regina Price has lived a life of tough knocks for the past two years, but she has risen above that.
For others in her situation, she has some advice. "Please, don't give up. Don't give up. There's a chance for everyone."
That's a message that comes from the heart.
In addition to paying the rent for Regina for the next several months, the Open Doors Homeless Coalition will also provide her with some furniture and other household items to help her adjust to her new life.