Churches Provide Light in a Foreclosure Storm - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Kimberly Holmes

Churches Provide Light in a Foreclosure Storm

(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

12/04/2008 5:31 PM ET

GREENSBORO, Md. - Ulandia Jackson washed a sink full of dirty dishes one weekday afternoon. A seemingly mudane task, Jackson said performing simple household chores in her own home is a blessing.

Seven months ago, Ulandia and her husband faced foreclosure after they fell behind on their mortgage.

"It seemed like things were just getting worse. With the hours and [my husband] losing his job and starting another job," Jackson said.  "It was a lot on us at that time. We were stressed out and i started to feel my health going. And I said, you know what, we gotta figure this out."

Little did she know, Ulandia said, the answer would come from the pulpit.

Jackson said her pastor, the Rev. Charles Cephas, not only offered her hope through scripture, but gave her a plan.

A preacher on Sundays, a counselor during the week, Cephas works Monday through Friday at the Maryland Rural Development Corporation, offering people like Jackson housing advice through the state-run "Bridge to Hope" program.

Eventually with Cephas' help, the Jacksons got to keep their home after receiving thousands of dollars in state money. Cephas said, unfortunately stories like the Jacksons are all too common.

"I had one family come in and the gentlemen was 65-years-old and the thing that he said to me was if you can't help me, I'm going to kill myself," Cephas said.

In the last year, Cephas said his workload has more than doubled.

Cephas has been spreading the word of MRDC's programs through fliers and workshops in local churches throughout the Eastern Shore for nearly two decades. It's a trend that researchers said is happening nationwide.

"The church is a place of safety, sanctuary and hope," Cephas said. "Many people feel confident in their pastors and the ability of the church to be honest with them and be on their side."

Cephas said the program is not just for those facing foreclosure.

Dontri Bolden enrolled nearly five years ago. He said MRDC's counseling and classes showed him how to save enough money to start his own barbershop in Federalsburg and eventually buy his own home.

"I never thought I'd be opening up a barbershop, but it's necessary in this time," Bolden said. "It's an accomplishment. A lot of hard work. It's great."

It's hard work the Jacksons said has definitely paid off.

"We've cut back a lot of things to make sure we can pay the mortgage and our gas and heat," Jackson said. 

A little sacrifice the Jacksons said, that's as good as money in the bank.

For more information on MRDC's programs log on to: http://www.mrdc.net/ .

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