“Clifton is like family”


gregGreg Ellis was one of the casualties of “The Great Recession” back in 2008 which led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes. Prior to the economic collapse, Ellis enjoyed a stable life, working as a patient care technician and renting his own home. That stability collapsed along with America’s economy. He lost his job and then his place. With nowhere to turn and without much family support, Ellis found himself checking into one of Atlanta’s most notorious shelters located in the heart of downtown Atlanta on Peachtree and Pine streets.

He bounced around from one shelter to the next before being referred to Clifton Sanctuary in August 2008. At Clifton, he found the support he needed that helped turn his life around.

“Clifton is like family,” said Ellis, 52. “You’re not just a number or somebody off the streets. They root for you. They get behind you and help you anyway they can.”

He continued: “That’s what a lot of homeless guys need. Someone to believe in them. And that’s what Mrs. Jenkins and (retired chaplain) Prince did. They believed in me.”

That belief boosted Ellis’ confidence, he said, especially during a potentially life-altering incident while at Clifton. One morning, while out job hunting, a pack of dogs attacked Ellis. While fending them off he fell and broke his wrist. He was forced to wear a cast during the healing process. However, he didn’t let a broken arm hold him back.

Staff members at Clifton were surprised to see him going on job interviews wearing a cast, but Ellis was determined.,

“I just didn’t give up,” said Ellis.

That determination led to a part time job with Hands On Atlanta tutoring students. Eventually, he landed a full-time position as a food service technician with the DeKalb County School District. Ellis moved out of Clifton and into a rooming house. He took on a part-time job as a cook with Kroger’s grocery store, paid off old debts, and soon purchased his first home ┬áin 2015.

Now, he’s being considered for an assistant manager’s position at DeKalb County Schools.

Ellis returns to Clifton often to help out and encourage men who face similar odds as he once did.

“I tell them to take it one step at a time and don’t give up, and also depend on the word of God.”