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Johnson City homeless family to share story on NBC’s ‘Rock Center’

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Nov 29 2012 05:07:36 PM CST
HOMELESS FAM 11-29
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

A Johnson City family of five shares their story of struggle with the nation.

This family, now homeless, will be profiled Thursday night on NBC's 'Rock Center' with Brian Williams as part of a special report on the working homeless. News 5 sat down with the family and learned why they are sharing their story.

Patrick and Cindy Kennard never imaged they'd be walking through the doors of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Johnson City homeless; not able to make ends meet.

"It was a shock to think that two people who are educated, who are willing to work, who put forth the effort could end up where we are," said Patrick Kennard.

The couple has three children and two college degrees.

Patrick Kennard has a degree in organizational management from Tusculum College and with a full-time job.

His wife Cindy Kennard is a University of Tennessee graduate with a degree in child development who had to give up her job because of family circumstances, but is actively looking for work.

But in the past few months, life has dealt them a perfect storm of financial trouble on top of student loan debt and mounting medical bills.

"Not only did we have a lot of health issues, we had a vehicle problem, too. Our transmission ran out," Cindy Kennard said, "and then Patrick's mother passed away last December, and unfortunately she didn't have any insurance."

After doing what they could to scrape by, "our wedding bands, we sold those just to have gas money and food to cook," said Cindy Kennard.

They were evicted from their apartment.

"It was embarrassing don't have any pride or dignity left," said Patrick Kennard.

Now living at a different church every week through the help of IHN; the Kennard's are volunteering to share their story with millions.

Ann Curry sits down with all five of the Kennard's to show America the faces of the working homeless; a growing problem across the nation and right here in our region.

"Recently we've seen an increase in not only our waiting list generally, but in terms of the makeup of families that come and are in our program. There's an increasing number that have high education levels," said Aaron Scott, development manager at the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Johnson City.

It takes swallowing pride, but for this family, they hope to tell others like them, 'you are not alone'.

"We felt that we were such failures that we didn't want anybody else to feel this way, and we want to be able to raise awareness," Cindy Kennard told News 5.

"There's help, but also, there's hope," said Patrick Kennard.

They're hoping, that also by sharing their story, they can show themselves they will get back on their feet stronger than ever. "I hope that if my children see anything in me, it's courage," Patrick Kennard said.

You can see their entire story as told by Ann Curry Thursday at 10:00 p.m. on NBC's 'Rock Center with Brian Williams'.