EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is the first in a four-part series for Wicked Local Beverly’s annual Gifts of Hope campaign.
Being a single parent of four children can be a very tough task. And it can be even tougher for someone fleeing an abusive relationship.
Back in 2010, Mallory* recalled walking by the old Beverly Bootstraps building on Cabot Street often, most times with her son. One day while walking along, Greg Ezell, then a case manager for the organization, noticed Mallory’s son was in need of gloves, so he invited them in, and offered up a pair.
And that’s something for which Mallory and her son will be forever grateful, not just the gesture, but also the welcoming nature and hospitality Bootstraps provided out of the blue.
Eventually, Mallory found herself in need of even more help from Bootstraps, as her children were taken into the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families while she worked out some domestic issues.
“The relationship went from something as simple as a glove to being an advocate,” Mallory said of Ezell. “He helped me get my kids back … And he made sure, every step of the way, that I knew everything was going to be OK.”
It eventually was, as Mallory was able to find a new place to live and regain custody of her children. From there, Beverly Bootstraps was able to help Mallory with more of her basic needs, whether it was assistance with her gas and electric bills or vouchers to the thrift shop for clothes.
The level of security and comfort she felt throughout her initial struggles is something Mallory said has continued to grow.
“It’s so much bigger than just coming here and asking for something,” she said. “It’s a familiar face, it’s the feeling of safety.”
Mallory couldn’t speak highly enough about the Bootstraps staff, and in particular, her current case manager Alisha Berkley.
“Whatever it is you need, she’s going to find you something,” she said. “And if she can’t find anything, you know she went to her outer limit to make it possible.”
Knowing there are other people out there who are struggling, Mallory said she is hopeful Bootstraps can be just as valuable a resource for others as it has been for her.
“Don’t be shy to reach out,” she advised. “And be honest with yourself. If I weren’t honest, none of this would have been possible. Things never pan out when you only tell half your story.”
* Names in this article have been changed.