To the Reader,

My hope is that this letter can offer clarity and inspiration to anyone who might be reading this.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Justin Bergum and this is how the organization “Helping Our Returning Neighbors” (H.O.R. N.) and specifically, one of its members named Steve Kennedy helped me in my darkest days.

I was hollowed out when I learned that my ex-wife was still in love with her first husband from 20 years past and I was devastated to be served divorce papers. After 20 years of faithful marriage and after raising two step-children as my own during that time, I was overcome by what I consider to be the most tragic event that I’ve ever incurred in life thus far. I fell victim to infidelity. I was rendered homeless with only my truck and my clothes, after acquiring nearly 1 million dollars of assets and net

Now, I wasn’t, and likely will never be a perfect human being, but I lived for my family. I attained a professional license through the state of Florida and ran a successful business for nearly 10 years to be a good provider and a good example to my children on how goals and dreams can be achieved.

However, after losing my wife and separation from my children I began to drink heavily. I was living in my truck underneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Pinellas County, FL with absolutely no will to carry and live. On December 13th, 2022, God, along with the help of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department saved my life. Anyone who knew me would never think that I was ever capable of committing a felony and
subsequently thrown in jail. But that happened. I had run out of money to drink, eat, get gas, and possibly clean up a motel room for the night. While intoxicated and in complete despair I had made a very foolish decision and decided that stealing a power tool was my only course of action in assuring my survival.

I was held in jail wondering how I could have fallen so far and what was to become of me next. I was eventually released from jail and after losing my impounded truck with what was left of my belongings I emerged from jail with nothing but the shirt on my back the shorts and shoes I had on. I had $15.00 left on my bank card after having to turn my phone back on so I could at least have a shot of connecting with someone to help me.

That night was one of the longest nights of my life walking around the city of Sarasota until 5 am. Finally, I was able to catch a bus to the North Port Social Services Department. I waited until noon before getting up enough courage to enter the building and ask for help. After speaking with the good people of social services, they directed me to call Steve Kennedy from H.O.R.N. Steve dropped whatever he might have been doing at the time to drive up to the social services building in North Port to meet with me and assist me in my time of need.

By the grace of God along with Steve and his H.O.R.N. organization I was able to get placed in a sober living home and the board granted me the funding to not only cover my first two weeks but to also cover the necessary entry fee into the home giving me the chance to begin again. ​

This was an exceptional thing and I found myself eternally grateful for Steve’s efforts and the efforts of the Helping Our Returning Neighbors organization. If it wasn’t for Steve and H.O.R.N.’s concern for me and their allowing me to find gainful employment by providing me with a safe and secure place to live I’m certain I would have resorted to measures that would have most likely let me become a statistic of recidivism. I likely would have found myself back in the gutter, homeless, and at the bottom of an empty bottle of booze.

The Helping Our Returning Neighbors organization has helped me to get back on my feet. I now have a great job, a vehicle insured and licensed in my name and most of
all a future that I can look to. As it was, and without the H.O.R.N.’s involvement and intervention in my life I would have no hope.

So in closing, I would like to Thank All Who Were Involved in helping me turn
my life around and thanks be to God for ALL OF YOU!


Sincerely and Respectfully,
Justin J Bergum