CLEVELAND — A church congregation on Cleveland's East Side with a storied history of charitable work outside of its sanctuary instead looked to its own pews to help a parishioner in need. Over the past several months, the congregation at Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church has been collecting money to help a single mother of five children that has been homeless for nearly two years.
Angie Talley, a member of the church since she was a child, suddenly became homeless after her landlord sold the home she was living in at the time. Then came the pandemic.
"I was kinda getting to my lowest point where I kept thinking, 'I don’t know what I do’ and I felt like I wasn’t being a great mom to my kids," Talley said. "I just felt really bad. I got to a dark place for a while but I still prevailed. I wouldn’t let my kids see it."
For the past several months, Talley and her children have been living out of a cramped hotel room. The hotel room designed for two people is where the family slept, ate, bathed, studied and prayed together.
During those two years, two of Talley's children graduated high school. No matter what roof was over their heads, she ensured that her children didn't fall behind in their coursework.
"My strength came from them. To wake up and see them smiling, laughing, playing when they could be angry and bitter, my kids are wonderful," Talley said.
Earlier this year, Johnny Twyman, the lead pastor at Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church, was surveying the stacks of supplies, toiletries and other essentials that the congregation had collected and planned on donating to area homeless shelters. Twyman said that moment provided an indescribable clarity.
"I was just overwhelmed that we have done so much for outside people and we hadn’t taken care of our own people," Twyman said. "My members that supported it. Other members in the city supported it. Other people period just supported it. [Angie and her children] work everywhere. Everything we do, this family has been there to help. They even helped with the fundraiser for the homeless while they were homeless."
After months of collecting donations and multiple special offerings, the church had raised enough money to not only purchase a home for Talley and her children but also furnish it too. Many of the men at the church have also volunteered their time and labor to make some necessary fixes and upgrades to the family's new home.
Talley and her kids moved in last Friday.
"I just broke out in tears. It was so heartfelt," Talley said. "Wow, people actually really this much about me and my children. It’s hard being a single mom, trying to take care of five kids. The struggle is really real."
When the family first walked into their new home, Talley's children, including 11-year-old Tianna Norris, rushed through the hallways to claim their own rooms. The space was sorely needed, Tianna said.
"I love the fact that we have a house right now. It’s been hard going to school and living in a hotel," Tianna said.