When Ebony Dean and her two children fell on hard times, Family Promise of NewRock stepped up to the plate, provided them with a place to live and, most importantly, allowed them to get back on their feet.
Ebony Dean knows as well as anyone that it truly takes a village. From school employees paying for hotel rooms and family members providing her with financial aid when needs arose to the assistance of community outreach programs, a number of factors went into allowing her to get back on her feet again. A Kansas native now in her mid-40s, Dean moved to Georgia in 2015 to live with her sister in Conyers after she lost her mother, her grandfather, the father of her children and her job all within a couple of years.
“I didn’t want to have to ask for help,” she said, “but eventually, I had to.”
While still in Kansas, she nailed down some job interviews in Georgia, accepted a position at Dollar General and eventually took a job as a medical assistant for the late Dr. James Stillerman in Covington. Dean has now worked at the practice for seven years. Although she maintained steady employment, she and her two children were forced to move into a hotel after her sister developed health problems that led to their getting behind on rent and eventually resulted in an eviction. Soon after, co-workers put Dean in touch with Family Promise of NewRock—a non-profit organization that provides shared housing and services to families in need—in an effort to get her back to a more normal living situation.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” Dean said. “There were some ups and downs. It’s affected my job—the stress of everything.”
Once Dean traversed the application process, which includes an interview, background check and drug testing, Family Promise stepped in to provide her and her children with lodging alongside another family for almost six months. It was a welcomed bridge.
“Just don’t give up. Just go through all the resources and call all around, and if you see that there’s a waiting list, don’t let it get to you because you have to stay strong for your kids and yourself.”Ebony Dean
“We help families with children experiencing homelessness achieve sustainable independence,” said Destiny Martin, the program manager at Family Promise. The organization is working to finish a basement in its current housing facility so it can accept up to five families instead of three. Donations from churches, corporations and individuals, along with some grants, fund Family Promise. According to Martin, the organization provides help to individuals in Newton and Rockdale counties through weekly management of a budget and finding independent housing. Eligible adults have to be employed within 30 days of starting the program and must find their own transportation. In addition, they cannot have a criminal history and must remain drug- and alcohol-free.
“When they are ready to move on, we help them move into their own place,” Martin said. “We still case manage them when they move out, so we make sure they are sustained long term.”
Ebony, her son, Trey, and her daughter, Takiyah, are currently living on their own in a Covington duplex they found through a co-worker. Family Promise of NewRock helped furnish their new space and set them up with a food pantry.
“It helps a lot just getting food and other resources like clothes, so I can save money,” said Dean, who relies on income from her job for support, along with the money her son brings in. “I hope to get back on track and save money and maybe buy a house here in Georgia or in Oklahoma or Kansas.”
Trey, 24, works as a packer and shipper at an Amazon warehouse in Stone Mountain. He plans to attend school—paid for by Amazon—for video design and development.
“It feels good, and it’s better that the three of us have our own place to ourselves,” Trey said. “I’m a lot happier than I was the last couple of years because we haven’t been on our own since 2014. You’ve always got to keep God on your side. If you’re focused on negative stuff, you’re going to get negative results. You’ve got to always be positive, and that’s what your life will be. You’ve got to be patient and keep the people you love on your side.”
Having settled into their duplex, the family has focused on getting Takiyah, who excels academically, graduated from high school in 2024. They are a picture of perseverance to many.
“Just don’t give up,” Ebony said. “Just go through all the resources and call all around, and if you see that there’s a waiting list, don’t let it get to you because you have to stay strong for your kids and yourself. I’m very appreciative of my co-workers, supervisors and Family Promise for just helping me.”
For information on Family Promise of NewRock, visit www.familypromiseofnewrock.org.