RICHLANDS, Va. (WJHL) – A group of community members in Southwest Virginia is helping those facing hardships in life by giving them a fresh start in a place they now call home.
The group called Blackberry Winter serves to provide support to those who have fallen on “cold snaps” in life.
“If people need help and I have the ability to give it, then I do,” said Blackberry Winter founder Teri Crawford Brown.
Crawford Brown is a registered nurse at Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richlands, Virginia. When she’s not helping patients, she is helping those in need furnish homes free of charge.
“People don’t need to feel judged for the circumstance that they’re in, they just need help,” she said. “They don’t have to feel guilty for needing help, we’ve all needed help.”
In July 2018, Teri learned a co-worker experienced a house fire. She had attended an auction with some inexpensive and quality furniture just a few days earlier.
“I thought if I had known Saturday, I could have furnished his home,” she said.
Now, with five storage sheds located across the area of Tazewell County and a network of 600 community members, Blackberry Winter has helped furnish 65 homes in just a matter of 18 months.
Donations to are kept in the storage sheds and given by members of the community.
“The fact that we can be able to help these people and at the end of the night, they have a bed to sleep, they have warm wash cloths to clean their face with, that’s a real big deal,” said Blackberry Winter Volunteer Brent Shelton.
The group takes referrals from social service programs like the Appalachian Area Agency on Aging, Clinch Valley Community Action and the Department of Child Services when helping those in need.
“Life is at its toughest when you have a lack of options,” said Shelton. “I think that’s true for all of us and the people that our reaching out to us, they’re out of options.”
With a few people and a few storage units, Teri said it does not take much, just a desire to help people.
“When you are doing things for the right reason,” said Crawford Brown, “then it’s easy to do, it just works out.”
More information can be found at Blackberry Winter’s website.