Barry, 49, a single dad, made parts for bicycle trailers ‘til a company layoff three years ago. He hung onto his Springfield apartment for two years before becoming homeless with Brandon and Joe, now 9 and 7.
Barry swallowed his own despair and, for his boys’ sake, framed the experience as an adventure. Thanks to a tax refund, they could afford motel rooms and token payments to friends and relatives for use of their couches.
Barry also contacted the local assistance agencies. He and the boys had been in Catholic Charities emergency housing for nine days when a caseworker referred him to the Connections office at St. Vincent de Paul. The Bucherts were approved for the 2-year program of case management and transitional housing that has given help to more than 300 families.
Handed papers to sign, Barry acknowledged that he didn’t have money for deposits or rent. That’s when he was embraced by another helping arm, that of Project Starfish, which covered both. Just two hours later Barry learned he’d been hired for a seasonal job and could cover subsequent rent payments. “That was a very special day,” he said.
In the year since, Barry has returned to school and is working on an associate’s degree in human services. Eventually he’d like to work with autistic children or the elderly. The boys are thriving in neighborhood schools and have friends on the block and a backyard garden. “They are definitely my inspiration,” Barry said.
He is eternally grateful for that financial boost from Starfish that got his family into a home, as it has done for 101 other families. “In my opinion, the funds from Project Starfish were the turning point,” he said. He also credits caseworkers at ShelterCare and Catholic Charities – as well as St. Vincent de Paul – for their combined advocacy.
“Through the efforts of all, the ducks lined up for us,” he said. “But it was only because of Project Starfish that I was able to accept this place.”