Starting in early December, Berry and her colleagues worked with local businesses in downtown Norfolk to collect winter coats, non-perishable food items, over-the-counter medicines and cleaning supplies for homeless families and those living near the poverty level.
They also collected more than $900 and donated everything to ForKids, a nonprofit agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty for families and kids.
“I have a strong sense of social responsibility, something I learned from my mom,” Berry said. “During this first drive, it was my goal to collect supplies for those in need, especially children and families who can’t help their circumstances.”
Her mom, Elena Montello, is the development director for Hope House Foundation.
Berry, who completed her Associate of Science in General Studies at TCC and is currently working towards her bachelor’s at Virginia Wesleyan College, works for the City of Norfolk as an account technician.
“TCC is a fairly large school, but it was intimate at the same time,” Berry said. “I was surprised by the small class sizes and the quality of the education. It was certainly not the run-of-the-mill-type education.”
Berry’s long-term goal is to work for a nonprofit serving the homeless. “I’m inspired by my mom because she taught me the value of being part of something greater than myself. Getting involved and being part of the community – that’s what life is all about.”
She plans to continue serving the homeless and families in need by conducting clothing and food drives several times a year. Her next drive is set for early summer.
“What I’ve learned is that these kids are so much greater than their circumstances,” she said. “We need to break the stigma of homelessness and help them move toward their dreams.”