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Organization saving homeless men looks to help women

Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 9:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - “This is the first time I have been clean this long. Being here and working on the problem. In the future I’ll be able to live the rest of my life clean and sober,” said Curtis Gummerson.

For the last six months, Gummerson has been living in a renovated apartment complex alongside 24 other other men who use to be homeless.

They were all taken in by Pastor Alfrieda Deas-Potts who is the CEO and Founder of Bounce Back Incorporated. It is a non-profit ministry that gives homeless people a chance to start over.

A roof over head is a big first step, but Deas-Potts goes further to address the cause of the problems like mental health and addiction.

“We connect with the Department of Social Services and get them evaluated so they can get the medication they need. Those who have educational deficiencies, we partner with the literacy programs to get them their GEDs,” Deas-Potts said.

They teach the men how to manage budgets and stick to a routine. They also take on addiction.

Just like making the bed or cleaning the room, sobriety is one of the rules in order to stay. Bounce Back provides addiction counseling to help people get clean.

Gummerson can only speculate as to where he would be without Bounce Back and Deas-Potts.

“I would probably be out on the streets or dead,” Gummerson said. “I was really close to death before I came here.”

Bounce Back does not receive state or local help. Instead they rely on donations, volunteer efforts and a “pay what you can” rent system. Most residents end up paying somewhere around $450 a month.

“Some stay longer than others. Most of these guys stay anywhere from 6 months to a year but we don’t let anyone leave until the miracle happens,” Deas-Potts said. “The 85 percent success ratio are those who stay in the program for up to two years.”

Since Bounce Back started back in 2007, Deas-Potts says they have transitioned more than 700 people out of homelessness.

“We are filling in that gap of what state agencies won’t do,” Deas-Potts said.

Now they want to duplicate the program for women. They have a business model, an army of volunteers and the know-how to get at the root issues. They are just missing one thing.

“A facility. Someone to offer a house,” Deas-Potts said. “We are willing to fix it up, whatever it needs. But we need some doors open.”

The program for women is called Walking Women Welfare and they had their sights set on an old hotel building on Aviation Avenue with more than 150 rooms. Deas-Potts says that facility could have housed more than 500 homeless women and help them transition back into society.

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