JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS)—Patricia Gougeon is the founder of Our Neighbor’s Keeper. It’s a Jackson non-profit working to help people who were once homeless or women escaping domestic violence settle into a new home.
“The ladies would come to me and they would say I have a new place. I’m so excited but I don’t have a couch, I don’t have a table, you know we’re sleeping on the floor,” said Gougeon.
So she’s filling in those empty spaces through her own store. It’s a place where everything is donated from her or the community. From free furniture, dishes, and glasses to decorations. Everything they need to start over.
“Get back on their feet. You know have not just an empty box with the key but have a home.”
For Gougeon it’s personal. She used to be homeless herself after leaving a domestic violence situation with four kids while battling cancer. Challenges she says have given her the strength to change the lives of the people who mean so much to her.
“Because there were so many stories, so many people, you know it’s sad but when you are able to help it’s not sad anymore. It’s part of new beginnings.”
She’s already helped close to a thousand people by giving them plates and flowers to brighten their homes or toys for their kids, but she knows the need is growing and there are others out there who like her need someone. That’s why every day she keeps going watching the culmination of all her hard work and knowing there was a greater purpose behind her pain.
“It is emotional. When you’ve been there it helps you to do it again over and over again and it makes you feel so good.”
The group is currently looking for volunteers, especially people who can help with the heavy lifting or organize household items. They are things that will help turn a house into a home for the people who need it right now.