“What’s my favorite thing in my new house? It’s me!”
Brad isn’t what you typically think of when you picture the homeless. He’s never even spent a night sleeping on the ground or a bench outside.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t spend his time in the trenches.
Eight years ago Brad got divorced, and then soon after lost his house and everything he owned in a fire. Next he lost his job as a home health aide. Within a year Brad went from having a steady job with a wife and a house to losing everything, and turned to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain he was going through.
Fortunately he still had friends and family in the city, and was able to stay with people off and on while he struggled with homelessness and living in shelters.
“I’m really thankful I stayed connected with my family. A lot of my friends who are still homeless only know people going through the same stuff. They don’t have anyone else to go to, and that’s a hurtful feeling.”
While he was homeless, Brad learned the hard way where real help was available, and where it was just wishful thinking. With some programs, he would have to fight through crowds just to get a meal or attention from a case manager.
Finding A Community
That’s why when Brad learned about Thrive DC, he was excited to find a place that could help him in lots of ways and give him personal attention.
“There are more resources on this side of town than in Southeast where the [801 East men’s] shelter is. At Thrive DC, this program is a lot – there’s the substance abuse group, job help, computer lab…getting the help you need is different here.”
“They also say ‘Good morning!’ when you walk in the door. That’s big. Having someone tell you good morning makes a big difference. Most places don’t do that for us.”
The substance abuse program was where Brad really started turning his life around. Dealing with addiction is a daily struggle, and he appreciated that Thrive DC’s program gave him options and didn’t just tell him what to do. He appreciated that someone like Gabriel, Thrive DC’s Substance Abuse Counselor, was on his side no matter what and offered him a safe place where he could get away from his addiction.
“Drugs and alcohol are the worst parts of living in a shelter. There are dealers and people using drugs right in front of the door so you can’t avoid it, coming or going.
“A lot of people can’t resist that temptation, and that’s what keeps them addicted. Then they come in to the shelter drunk or high and that’s what starts the stealing.”
Thrive DC offered Brad a place to escape during the day from the drugs and alcohol around him, and the substance abuse program became a supportive environment to get him back on his feet. About 9 months after he started coming to Thrive DC he finally got into housing.
“Being able to cook and clean for myself is the best thing about being in a home. I’m a neat freak! I love being able to choose what I cook and keeping my space tidy just the way I like it.”
Right now, Brad is focused on getting his life back together. Now that he has a house, the next thing is getting re-certified as a home health aide and paying his own way. After relying on his friends and family for so long, he’s looking forward to being independent again.
“If I could say one thing to all the people who support Thrive DC, I would say ‘thank you.’ You really don’t know how much you are helping. You don’t see the progress, but if you help one of us you help all of us. Everyone is looking for a miracle, but they don’t come around every day.”
“But I got mine!”
How You Can Help
It took Brad nine months with Thrive DC to get sober and get out of homelessness. For many clients it takes even longer than that.
Change takes time.
To support our clients and give them the time it takes to change, consider joining our Next Step Team as a monthly donor. Not only will your donations be easy and automatic, but the steady gift each month will give our clients a foundation to build from.