Chattanooga woman who helps the homeless, now without a home

A Chattanooga woman who spent years helping the homeless find food and shelter is now without a home. (Image: Michelle Erwin)

A Chattanooga woman who spent years helping the homeless find food and shelter is now without a home.

Still, she continues to selflessly give back to others during her time of need.

It's why Newschannel 9's Jessica Harthorn surprised her for this week's Pay It Forward.

Michelle Erwin searches the city of Chattanooga for homeless people so she can give them food and household items she collects.

She says she often ends up in camps in the woods behind grocery stores and in downtown parks.

Now she's hoping to expand her ministry, even as she too struggles to make ends meet.

You may have noticed the tents set up at Miller Park in Downtown Chattanoga over the years.

The tables piled high with food, clothing and toiletries for anyone who needs them.

People are gathered in prayer supporting each other.

And Stephanie Young says the woman who organized it all is Michelle Erwin.

"She's always had a heart for people and especially people in need," said Stephanie.

In fact, Michelle was interviewed on GMC Fox Edition right before Thanksgiving.

She was part of the effort at Hope City Church, cooking hundreds of free thanksgiving meals.

"She really wants this ministry to grow because she knows the need is out there," said Stephanie.

Michelle's own needs have grown. She was hurt in a car crash and has not been able to find stable work.

We followed Stephanie and Michelle's friends and family to the place where she is now living as she looks for permanent housing.

"Where's Michelle?" asked Stephanie.

'She's not here," answered her family member.

"I told her I was coming!" said Stephanie.

It turns out, Michelle left to go help a friend in need at her home across town and that's where she answered the door.

"Hi Michelle, On behalf of Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm. We want to Pay it Forward, open up that hand. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We love you!" surprised Stephanie.

"God has just laid it on my heart to help others in need, so its just my heart," cried Michelle.

Michelle thanked her family and friends honored by their love.

"it's freezing out here and everyone came to track me down!" said Michelle.

"Yes! You have no idea!" said her friends.

Nominate someone you think deserves $500 for helping others in need.

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