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ABOUT

The mission of the UNLOCKED Voices is to elevate the voices of people in our community by creating a platform for them to share their unique stories and underrepresented perspectives.

Through this, we strive to break down the stigma of homelessness, foster deeper empathy and raise community consciousness so that, together, we can act towards change.

"Once you take that time to hear somebody’s story, it changes everything.”

Community Care Fellowship

"Once you take that time to hear somebody’s story, it changes everything.”

Ryan LaSuer
Executive Director at Community Care Fellowship 

“Even at the age of 13 I had a draw to help others… I think it was my upbringing. Both my mother and my father. My mother still will take over any service project and make it her own and be the first person there and last person out. And my dad, I can vividly remember, the floods in Mississippi where he went down with the red cross and laid sandbags for a levy, and [the water] got to the top of the levy but did not spill over. The entire town was saved because of the efforts of all those individuals, and I remember him coming back and just sharing that with me. That was one of the first [moments I thought], ‘I want to have a story like that. I want to be a part of a story of salvation, in a lot of ways, not only spiritual, but just being able to play some role of empowering somebody to reach their full potential.’”


“I think my ‘sandbag moment’ was when I first came to CCF and God brought a family in alongside me, a family of 6 living in their vehicle, just trying to survive. I got to see myself in the father and how he was struggling with self-worth and purpose and how I would do the same in my own life. Being able to understand that and then to come alongside them, because that’s what’s amazing is sometimes it’s not the huge, programmatic vision. Sometimes it’s just sitting down and having a conversation like you and I. So sitting down with them on a daily basis, them and their family, and walking them through this journey of living in their car and going from that point to, through all of our partners, to where they were housed, he was working full-time, the family was in school. Just that impact and that growth process that we both went through together. That was the very first ‘sandbag moment’ of ‘this is what it’s all about,’ being able to empower individuals that are ready to move out of this place that they’ve come to. And how you begin to understand that it could be any of us. It wasn’t by any fault of their own. Once you take that time to hear somebody’s story, it changes everything.”


"It’s just hard. I’m proud of myself, but it’s like I can’t get ahead."

Nashville, TN

"It’s just hard. I’m proud of myself, but it’s like I can’t get ahead."

“I mean me and my husband have been together for 31 years. High school sweethearts. Six beautiful children. My husband thought I was gonna leave him when he had the stroke, I mean God had brought us a long way. A very long way. It is so hard out here and nobody knows how it is."

"My kids are grown, I just became a grandma. My daughter turned 18 October the 16th. I had my first grandbaby October the 16th on her 18th birthday. And my grandbaby is 100% blind… how he tells who we are, he [touches] the face and [hears] our voice… I didn’t want to be a grandma because of the situation that I’m in. I’m homeless, I’m out here on the streets. I’m not gonna be able to see my grandbaby like I should… and then my husband being locked up, and worried about him… he’s been in there 4 months. We got married when we were 17. Started having kids when I was 16 and just continued to have kids after kids after kids after kids and then we had 6 beautiful ones. I have 4 living, I have 2 deceased."

"So, I mean it’s just hard because you ain’t got people out here who are willing to help. You have nobody that you can sit and talk to. I got so stressed out and had so much pain in my heart… I’m five days clean. I’m doing good, I’m trying to straighten up my life before my husband gets out because he’s not able to work to take care of me, but he’s worked all of his life, the whole 31 years that we’ve been together, to take care of me."

"It’s just hard. I’m proud of myself, but it’s like I can’t get ahead. It’s like it’s backing me up instead of me going forward. And I ask God to forgive me for my sins. I went to church yesterday, it felt good. I sat there crying the whole time, but I felt so good when I walked up out of there, it was amazing.”


"Every time my kids call, I drop everything. I’m a good mother.”

Nashville, TN

"Every time my kids call, I drop everything. I’m a good mother.”

“She kind of married a guy that was bad. And we came to get her… That’s why I came down here, to save my daughter from going to jail. Everything I make, I give it to her.. She thinks I go to work everyday. I’d hate for her to see me out here *laughs*. Cuz it’s really hard for me to get a job, and I lost all my records because they got taken when we got here. When we got here, we got robbed. It’s a sob story, I know, I’m sorry… My daughter’s been drug free for four months. So, I got her away from the guy, I got her out of drug rehab, and now she’s coming home with me. I’m only a couple of dollars short."

“She married a guy and moved down here. She’s 24 years old... I’ve spent my life savings on this… to get her home... I’m not mad at her. She’s gonna fail, she’s gonna fall. Cuz we always do… Everybody falls at some point... She’s needs to come home. She’s been down here 2 years. She got hooked on heroin, and the guy beats her up. But as a parent, if you try to stop it, they won’t stop. You have to wait for the kids to ask you for help… She finally broke down and said, ‘Mom, come get me.’ Every time my kids call, I drop everything. I’m a good mother.”

"I’m a success story, but I just want people to know that this did not happen overnight."

"I’m a success story, but I just want people to know that this did not happen overnight."

“I never thought this day right here would come because for the last couple years all I’ve been thinking is ‘We’re gonna be in a tent for the rest of our lives’ and then [my boyfriend] had a stroke down there… and I almost got frostbitten, they cut my tent up and stole from me... I can’t say it’s all been bad… My tent became my home. It really did.” 

 

“It’s been a long waiting process cuz we’ve been on the waiting list for like three years for any kind of metro house… So all of a sudden this year, they called, they emailed us and said that... he was gonna get it this year. They pulled him out of the lottery... I had to advocate and keep following through... And it was a bumpy road waiting on them… And I gave it to God. I was going to the church on Saturday mornings, and I just prayed, and I said ‘What’s wrong? I know I ain’t no saint.’ I said, ‘We are tired. I don’t understand why.’ And the preacher, he said ‘You know why it’s so hard right now?’ He said, ‘You know why you struggling and the Devil’s beating you right now?’ I said ‘Why?’ He said ‘Cuz you're on the verge of a breakthrough.’ I promise you that’s what he told me.”

 

“I said, ‘Look. Listen. I gave it to God. I told God it’s what I wanted.’ I said, ‘I don’t care what y’all say. God gonna give me my house for Christmas. And I’m done, I don’t even wanna talk no more about it.’ I told everybody it’d be Wednesday. She called Monday and said ‘You can move in Tuesday.’”

 

“Tell you real genuine, I go down there, and I see people down there still. At first, I felt bad cuz we were leaving, but then I don’t feel bad because I know we put in the work to get out of there... I mean, just cuz I’m out, I’m still the same [name] that lived in that tent down there. I don’t think I’m better. I’m still the same… I’m like, ‘Y’all are my family, I’m still coming back over here’ to visit them. I’m just basking in it… I’m a success story, but I just want people to know that this did not happen overnight or in a couple of months; this has taken some years, so I have a right to boast cuz this has been a long time coming.”


“I got hit by a car."

Nashville, TN

“I got hit by a car."

“I got hit by a car. I guess I didn’t see her. I don’t remember it. I had a lacerated bladder, I had a walker, I couldn't get around. My back is messed up. It’s another incident in my book, that one day I will write.”

“I made myself be fine, that walker was hectic. I just told myself I’m gonna do it. Either that or depend on a walker or cane the rest of my life. I was supposed to go back to the doctor and they’re gonna check it. But I have been back to [a local emergency room] a couple times, and they’re saying, ‘whatever you’re doing, you’re doing good’ cuz it’s healing. I feel a lot better.”

“I’m actually working on some things. I got my ID from the state, and the hard copy comes and then I’m gonna get my social security card and then I can get a job. I used to do CNA work, I’d like to do that again. Certified Nursing Assistant.”


"It was a struggle, but hey, I did it.”

Community Care Fellowship

"It was a struggle, but hey, I did it.”

Maurice White
Building Manager and Cook at Community Care Fellowship

“I was a recovering alcohol and drug addict, and I was on the verge of being homeless. Just quit doing what I was doing and changed my circle of friends. When I started working here I was looking at the guests like ‘that could have been me,’ if I hadn’t changed my ways, and that really inspired me to help them more and almost get the feeling of them, what they’re going through and their struggles.”


“It was 1999 when I started. I started working custodial work and then 3 years later, the kitchen manager moved, and so they asked me if I’d like to take over the kitchen. I said ‘sure’ and I’ve been doing it ever since. 19 years later.”


“When I got divorced and I started staying with my mom, [my wife] knew what I was doing and she didn’t want any part of that, drugging and alcoholism. That was my rock bottom. Staying with other people. That wasn’t me. When I started working here, it was like the Lord just said, ‘It’s time for a change.’ Look at the man in the mirror.”


“When I worked here I was still doing what I was doing but then a year later, I was looking at the people coming through these doors, looking at them struggling, and I was like, ‘I got to change my ways.’ It was just a calling for me. I had to get my license back because I got a DUI. I was listening to other people’s stories. One guy had almost killed himself in a car accident by him drinking and driving. All of that stuck in my head. I had to be clean for those 16 weeks. After I finished that, I was like, ‘Hey, I can do without it.’ Like I said, I changed my circle of friends and got around positive people. And that really changed my life. It was a struggle, but hey, I did it.”


“I know a lot of guys that come in here and are doing really well now just because of this place. It reminds me of myself, what I was going through. I was telling them, ‘Look man, I’ve been there and done that, and you can come out of it. It’s really nothing good about that. You always broke, you don’t have money because you’re spending it all on drugs and alcohol. Be somebody, not just a statistic.’ I look to be as a role model to them. I don’t steer them in the wrong direction, I try to tell them positive things from what I’ve been through and stuff.”


"[I want] to have a rapport with somebody, and I have basically no normality about my existence right now."

Nashville, TN

"[I want] to have a rapport with somebody, and I have basically no normality about my existence right now."

“I ain’t got quite a social life yet, and it’s kind of embarrassing, well, to me it is. I guess because I’m a little bit old fashioned. You know when you want to be with an opposite gender person and, you know, maybe have a relationship with and stuff, and you’re like “Oh, I work! I got some money, baby, we can go out!” “Nah, can I come over to your place, or are we going here?” and... I don’t know how I’m trying to seem without seeming so meager-like."

 

"When you have a relationship with somebody, okay we’re going to eat some good food and we’re gonna go see the arts and the ballet or whatever and 'okay, well, bye!’ ‘Well why can’t I come over to your place?’ 'Well… you gotta walk through the woods to get there.' [I want] to have a rapport with somebody, and I have basically no normality about my existence right now."

 

"I’m comfortable with myself, but I’m not comfortable with someone else having to live like I’m living right now because it’s… almost cave-manish or womanish to be like this in this area, this society, this time that we’re living in."

 

“I’ve lived everywhere between living underneath the bridge, waking up with flip flops and a pair of shorts, to not “super rich” but comfortable. Actually, you’re one of the few people I’ve talked to this long and this much about my life.”

 

"There’s not really that much danger out here, as much as people would think... Being under bridges or wherever you have to be at, it’s not dangerous. There’s more danger of somebody else “normal” being “Go get a job!” or something like that... that kind of hateful, Grinch-y demeanor. Like I was over there one day just before Christmas and had a sign that said “Help me have an Xmas” or something like that. And the guy said “Nobody cares!” “Wow! Okay, Grinch. God cares. God still loves you anyway, have a blessed day.” There’s people like that though."


"But the best part is the community. The people.”

Community Care Fellowship

"But the best part is the community. The people.”

"I was on section 8. A new owner bought the old owner out. So they said ‘Anybody on Section 8, you got 60 days to get out.’ So I’ve been gone since July 1st. I’m like ‘Why am I being punished for something I didn’t do?’ 60 day notice, after living there for nine and a half years on Section 8. Well, I guess things happen for a reason. I don’t know. I might find a better place. And the same bedroom that Section 8 was helping me out on, I was paying $650. I paid half, they paid half. The same one bedroom now is $1100. The same bedroom! Ain’t no bigger than a match box. It’s not Section 8 housing anymore."

"
It’s really crazy. I mean I never expected something like that to happen, and especially after nine and a half years on Section 8. It’s scary right now for me because I have health issues and can’t work anymore. I’ve been disabled since 2009. You know, Community Care Fellowship is a really good thing for homeless people. I get to take hot showers here. I do my laundry. I just came in today to get warm *laughs*. But the best part is the community. The people."

"Once you take that time to hear somebody’s story, it changes everything.”

Community Care Fellowship

"Once you take that time to hear somebody’s story, it changes everything.”

Ryan LaSuer
Executive Director at Community Care Fellowship 

“Even at the age of 13 I had a draw to help others… I think it was my upbringing. Both my mother and my father. My mother still will take over any service project and make it her own and be the first person there and last person out. And my dad, I can vividly remember, the floods in Mississippi where he went down with the red cross and laid sandbags for a levy, and [the water] got to the top of the levy but did not spill over. The entire town was saved because of the efforts of all those individuals, and I remember him coming back and just sharing that with me. That was one of the first [moments I thought], ‘I want to have a story like that. I want to be a part of a story of salvation, in a lot of ways, not only spiritual, but just being able to play some role of empowering somebody to reach their full potential.’”


“I think my ‘sandbag moment’ was when I first came to CCF and God brought a family in alongside me, a family of 6 living in their vehicle, just trying to survive. I got to see myself in the father and how he was struggling with self-worth and purpose and how I would do the same in my own life. Being able to understand that and then to come alongside them, because that’s what’s amazing is sometimes it’s not the huge, programmatic vision. Sometimes it’s just sitting down and having a conversation like you and I. So sitting down with them on a daily basis, them and their family, and walking them through this journey of living in their car and going from that point to, through all of our partners, to where they were housed, he was working full-time, the family was in school. Just that impact and that growth process that we both went through together. That was the very first ‘sandbag moment’ of ‘this is what it’s all about,’ being able to empower individuals that are ready to move out of this place that they’ve come to. And how you begin to understand that it could be any of us. It wasn’t by any fault of their own. Once you take that time to hear somebody’s story, it changes everything.”

Read more →


“I got hit by a car."

Nashville, TN

“I got hit by a car."

“I got hit by a car. I guess I didn’t see her. I don’t remember it. I had a lacerated bladder, I had a walker, I couldn't get around. My back is messed up. It’s another incident in my book, that one day I will write.”

“I made myself be fine, that walker was hectic. I just told myself I’m gonna do it. Either that or depend on a walker or cane the rest of my life. I was supposed to go back to the doctor and they’re gonna check it. But I have been back to [a local emergency room] a couple times, and they’re saying, ‘whatever you’re doing, you’re doing good’ cuz it’s healing. I feel a lot better.”

“I’m actually working on some things. I got my ID from the state, and the hard copy comes and then I’m gonna get my social security card and then I can get a job. I used to do CNA work, I’d like to do that again. Certified Nursing Assistant.”

Read more →


"It’s just hard. I’m proud of myself, but it’s like I can’t get ahead."

Nashville, TN

"It’s just hard. I’m proud of myself, but it’s like I can’t get ahead."

“I mean me and my husband have been together for 31 years. High school sweethearts. Six beautiful children. My husband thought I was gonna leave him when he had the stroke, I mean God had brought us a long way. A very long way. It is so hard out here and nobody knows how it is."

"My kids are grown, I just became a grandma. My daughter turned 18 October the 16th. I had my first grandbaby October the 16th on her 18th birthday. And my grandbaby is 100% blind… how he tells who we are, he [touches] the face and [hears] our voice… I didn’t want to be a grandma because of the situation that I’m in. I’m homeless, I’m out here on the streets. I’m not gonna be able to see my grandbaby like I should… and then my husband being locked up, and worried about him… he’s been in there 4 months. We got married when we were 17. Started having kids when I was 16 and just continued to have kids after kids after kids after kids and then we had 6 beautiful ones. I have 4 living, I have 2 deceased."

"So, I mean it’s just hard because you ain’t got people out here who are willing to help. You have nobody that you can sit and talk to. I got so stressed out and had so much pain in my heart… I’m five days clean. I’m doing good, I’m trying to straighten up my life before my husband gets out because he’s not able to work to take care of me, but he’s worked all of his life, the whole 31 years that we’ve been together, to take care of me."

"It’s just hard. I’m proud of myself, but it’s like I can’t get ahead. It’s like it’s backing me up instead of me going forward. And I ask God to forgive me for my sins. I went to church yesterday, it felt good. I sat there crying the whole time, but I felt so good when I walked up out of there, it was amazing.”

Read more →


"It was a struggle, but hey, I did it.”

Community Care Fellowship

"It was a struggle, but hey, I did it.”

Maurice White
Building Manager and Cook at Community Care Fellowship

“I was a recovering alcohol and drug addict, and I was on the verge of being homeless. Just quit doing what I was doing and changed my circle of friends. When I started working here I was looking at the guests like ‘that could have been me,’ if I hadn’t changed my ways, and that really inspired me to help them more and almost get the feeling of them, what they’re going through and their struggles.”


“It was 1999 when I started. I started working custodial work and then 3 years later, the kitchen manager moved, and so they asked me if I’d like to take over the kitchen. I said ‘sure’ and I’ve been doing it ever since. 19 years later.”


“When I got divorced and I started staying with my mom, [my wife] knew what I was doing and she didn’t want any part of that, drugging and alcoholism. That was my rock bottom. Staying with other people. That wasn’t me. When I started working here, it was like the Lord just said, ‘It’s time for a change.’ Look at the man in the mirror.”


“When I worked here I was still doing what I was doing but then a year later, I was looking at the people coming through these doors, looking at them struggling, and I was like, ‘I got to change my ways.’ It was just a calling for me. I had to get my license back because I got a DUI. I was listening to other people’s stories. One guy had almost killed himself in a car accident by him drinking and driving. All of that stuck in my head. I had to be clean for those 16 weeks. After I finished that, I was like, ‘Hey, I can do without it.’ Like I said, I changed my circle of friends and got around positive people. And that really changed my life. It was a struggle, but hey, I did it.”


“I know a lot of guys that come in here and are doing really well now just because of this place. It reminds me of myself, what I was going through. I was telling them, ‘Look man, I’ve been there and done that, and you can come out of it. It’s really nothing good about that. You always broke, you don’t have money because you’re spending it all on drugs and alcohol. Be somebody, not just a statistic.’ I look to be as a role model to them. I don’t steer them in the wrong direction, I try to tell them positive things from what I’ve been through and stuff.”

Read more →


"Every time my kids call, I drop everything. I’m a good mother.”

Nashville, TN

"Every time my kids call, I drop everything. I’m a good mother.”

“She kind of married a guy that was bad. And we came to get her… That’s why I came down here, to save my daughter from going to jail. Everything I make, I give it to her.. She thinks I go to work everyday. I’d hate for her to see me out here *laughs*. Cuz it’s really hard for me to get a job, and I lost all my records because they got taken when we got here. When we got here, we got robbed. It’s a sob story, I know, I’m sorry… My daughter’s been drug free for four months. So, I got her away from the guy, I got her out of drug rehab, and now she’s coming home with me. I’m only a couple of dollars short."

“She married a guy and moved down here. She’s 24 years old... I’ve spent my life savings on this… to get her home... I’m not mad at her. She’s gonna fail, she’s gonna fall. Cuz we always do… Everybody falls at some point... She’s needs to come home. She’s been down here 2 years. She got hooked on heroin, and the guy beats her up. But as a parent, if you try to stop it, they won’t stop. You have to wait for the kids to ask you for help… She finally broke down and said, ‘Mom, come get me.’ Every time my kids call, I drop everything. I’m a good mother.”

Read more →


"[I want] to have a rapport with somebody, and I have basically no normality about my existence right now."

Nashville, TN

"[I want] to have a rapport with somebody, and I have basically no normality about my existence right now."

“I ain’t got quite a social life yet, and it’s kind of embarrassing, well, to me it is. I guess because I’m a little bit old fashioned. You know when you want to be with an opposite gender person and, you know, maybe have a relationship with and stuff, and you’re like “Oh, I work! I got some money, baby, we can go out!” “Nah, can I come over to your place, or are we going here?” and... I don’t know how I’m trying to seem without seeming so meager-like."

 

"When you have a relationship with somebody, okay we’re going to eat some good food and we’re gonna go see the arts and the ballet or whatever and 'okay, well, bye!’ ‘Well why can’t I come over to your place?’ 'Well… you gotta walk through the woods to get there.' [I want] to have a rapport with somebody, and I have basically no normality about my existence right now."

 

"I’m comfortable with myself, but I’m not comfortable with someone else having to live like I’m living right now because it’s… almost cave-manish or womanish to be like this in this area, this society, this time that we’re living in."

 

“I’ve lived everywhere between living underneath the bridge, waking up with flip flops and a pair of shorts, to not “super rich” but comfortable. Actually, you’re one of the few people I’ve talked to this long and this much about my life.”

 

"There’s not really that much danger out here, as much as people would think... Being under bridges or wherever you have to be at, it’s not dangerous. There’s more danger of somebody else “normal” being “Go get a job!” or something like that... that kind of hateful, Grinch-y demeanor. Like I was over there one day just before Christmas and had a sign that said “Help me have an Xmas” or something like that. And the guy said “Nobody cares!” “Wow! Okay, Grinch. God cares. God still loves you anyway, have a blessed day.” There’s people like that though."

Read more →


"I’m a success story, but I just want people to know that this did not happen overnight."

"I’m a success story, but I just want people to know that this did not happen overnight."

“I never thought this day right here would come because for the last couple years all I’ve been thinking is ‘We’re gonna be in a tent for the rest of our lives’ and then [my boyfriend] had a stroke down there… and I almost got frostbitten, they cut my tent up and stole from me... I can’t say it’s all been bad… My tent became my home. It really did.” 

 

“It’s been a long waiting process cuz we’ve been on the waiting list for like three years for any kind of metro house… So all of a sudden this year, they called, they emailed us and said that... he was gonna get it this year. They pulled him out of the lottery... I had to advocate and keep following through... And it was a bumpy road waiting on them… And I gave it to God. I was going to the church on Saturday mornings, and I just prayed, and I said ‘What’s wrong? I know I ain’t no saint.’ I said, ‘We are tired. I don’t understand why.’ And the preacher, he said ‘You know why it’s so hard right now?’ He said, ‘You know why you struggling and the Devil’s beating you right now?’ I said ‘Why?’ He said ‘Cuz you're on the verge of a breakthrough.’ I promise you that’s what he told me.”

 

“I said, ‘Look. Listen. I gave it to God. I told God it’s what I wanted.’ I said, ‘I don’t care what y’all say. God gonna give me my house for Christmas. And I’m done, I don’t even wanna talk no more about it.’ I told everybody it’d be Wednesday. She called Monday and said ‘You can move in Tuesday.’”

 

“Tell you real genuine, I go down there, and I see people down there still. At first, I felt bad cuz we were leaving, but then I don’t feel bad because I know we put in the work to get out of there... I mean, just cuz I’m out, I’m still the same [name] that lived in that tent down there. I don’t think I’m better. I’m still the same… I’m like, ‘Y’all are my family, I’m still coming back over here’ to visit them. I’m just basking in it… I’m a success story, but I just want people to know that this did not happen overnight or in a couple of months; this has taken some years, so I have a right to boast cuz this has been a long time coming.”

Read more →


"But the best part is the community. The people.”

Community Care Fellowship

"But the best part is the community. The people.”

"I was on section 8. A new owner bought the old owner out. So they said ‘Anybody on Section 8, you got 60 days to get out.’ So I’ve been gone since July 1st. I’m like ‘Why am I being punished for something I didn’t do?’ 60 day notice, after living there for nine and a half years on Section 8. Well, I guess things happen for a reason. I don’t know. I might find a better place. And the same bedroom that Section 8 was helping me out on, I was paying $650. I paid half, they paid half. The same one bedroom now is $1100. The same bedroom! Ain’t no bigger than a match box. It’s not Section 8 housing anymore."

"
It’s really crazy. I mean I never expected something like that to happen, and especially after nine and a half years on Section 8. It’s scary right now for me because I have health issues and can’t work anymore. I’ve been disabled since 2009. You know, Community Care Fellowship is a really good thing for homeless people. I get to take hot showers here. I do my laundry. I just came in today to get warm *laughs*. But the best part is the community. The people."

Read more →