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When Marcallina James moved to Memphis from Minnesota, she had housing arranged and was ready to embark on a career and new life in the city. But within one week of arriving in Memphis, she learned that the housing situation had changed, and she suddenly found herself without a roof over her head.
“I was convinced that I needed to just get in my car and drive the 13 hours back to Minnesota, yet I had no home there either anymore,” she said. James reached out to the Veterans’ Housing program at Catholic Charities. Because she had served during the Gulf War and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, she believed she would be eligible for services.
Within days of connecting with Catholic Charities, James secured an apartment in Midtown. Catholic Charities provided a move-in kit and a visit to our Food Pantry as part of the moving plan. Once she was settled into her apartment in August, James was able to secure a position as the Veterans and Military Services Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where she has worked since Sept. 11.
“It’s a bit frightening to be in a city where you have no family and no support system. But from the moment I met Catholic Charities, I knew that they cared about veterans. I feel incredibly blessed and can’t believe I could have started my journey here in Memphis without the help of Catholic Charities,” she said.
Catholic Charities is honored to recognize James with its first annual Person of the Year award. In collaboration with the office of Mayor Jim Strickland, this award recognizes a CCWTN client who has moved beyond self-sufficiency to give back to the community through professional or volunteer efforts.
“It’s so great to see success stories like Ms. James where she not only found employment, but is giving back one of her most precious assets—her time,” said Mayor Strickland, who issued a proclamation in her honor.
Dick Hackett, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, said, "We are grateful that our Housing Ministry is there for people like Marcallina, when they hit a rough spot in life, and we salute her for her resilience and tenacity, which have led her to become such a wonderful contributor to both the community of Memphis and the military community she serves in her professional life.”