Matthews – Mint Hill Weekly
MATTHEWS – Kim and Joe Bergin, of Matthews Estates, didn’t know what they signed up for when Kim Bergin applied to be on a reality TV show about their family’s financial burden.
The Bergin family took part in the new CBS reality TV show, “The Briefcase,” which is set to air Wednesday, May 27, at 8 p.m.
“I found out about it on www.realitywanted.com; all the listing said was, ‘Could having more money ease your financial burden?’” she said.
Kim applied in early February, and CBS reached out to her family two days later. They were filming by March 7.
“Everything happened in less than 30 days – it was a whirlwind,” she said.
The show presents two families who have financial need and surprises them with a briefcase filled with $101,000 in cash. They get to keep $1,000; but as for the rest of the money, they have three options to choose from and 72 hours to do it: keep it all, give some of it away or give all of it away to another family in financial distress. Another twist – neither family knows the other has been confronted with the same amount of money and circumstances.
Kim, Joe and their daughters – Payton, 15; Kennedy, 13; and Regan, 12 – have faced many financial challenges over the years. Joe was laid off from a sales job 10 years ago and searched for a new job for six months before Kim suggested they open an ice cream truck business. Brrr-Gin’s Ice Cream has served popsicles, fruit bars and ice cream at events and neighborhoods in Matthews, Mint Hill, Charlotte, Indian Trail and Stallings.
“We’ve worked at a lot special events at Stumptown Park and with Matthews Parks and Recreation camps and local schools,” Joe said.
An unfortunate accident befell on Joe in December 2014. He was driving one of the ice cream trucks on Stallings Road when someone drove across the center line and struck his truck in a head-on collision. Joe broke his right foot and dislocated his shoulder, and was ordered to be on bed rest for eight weeks.
“It was like I was sitting in jail,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything for my family.”
The financial burden became too much when he couldn’t work, and several ice cream trucks were out of commission and in need of serious repairs. Kim was trying to pick up the pieces and manage the family’s needs while working a part-time job.
The reality show shocked the Bergins with the briefcase full of money and sent them on an emotional rollercoaster as they went back and forth on what decision to make in regards to the money. New Hampshire couple Cara and Dave Bronson, the other couple was faced with the same decision, also wrestled with the idea of keeping the money or helping another couple, whose life circumstances are leaked as the week progresses.
Kim said the hardest part was knowing they needed the money just as much as the other couple.
“We both cried everyday – it was so emotional,” she said. “We were up and down.”
“In the beginning, we were on separate pages, but in the end, we were on the same page,” Joe said. “We didn’t even have to say it out loud, because we both knew what we were going to do.”
Payton, who attends Crestdale Middle School, said she enjoyed the experience and was happy with her parents’ final decision.
“I am so proud of my family for doing the right thing,” she said. “If it was any other way, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”
The Bergins said participating in “The Briefcase” shaped them in more ways than money ever could.
“I am so proud of our family,” Kim said. “It reiterates the fact that we have an awesome family without the money.”
“I think it’s brought us closer together,” Joe said. “I’m helping Kim more with the financial burdens; I’d always had a blind eye to that stuff, and I’m getting more involved and helping with that now, because I didn’t know what stress it was putting her under.”
They also hope their story will help others to not feel ashamed of financial problems.
“We’ve noticed over the last year or so that we are not the only people in this situation,” Joe said. “People just don’t talk about it, and we hope to help start the conversation.”
The Bergins plan to host a viewing party with 60 friends and family at Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation. Kim said only the five of them know what happened and they are excited to see their family and friends’ reaction.
View the episode at www.cbs.com.