“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.
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.
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.
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!”
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 firm foundation to build from.
Angel had second thoughts the first time he walked into Thrive DC.
“That sandwich meant everything to me. I had no money and no place to go. That sandwich said ‘don’t give up, stay strong.’”
Angel needed help finding employment. He was living in a friend’s closet paying $200/month just to have someplace to sleep at night. But Thrive DC was able help him out with a job right away. Less than a week after Angel came looking for help he was set up with a job at a local grocery store.
Angel respectfully let Thrive DC know that he was going to quit his job, and went to a friend with a painting company for work. When there was work to do it was a good arrangement; but every day was a risk that he might not get a call, or the job wouldn’t be big enough to pay his bills.
Eventually he ran out of options and came back to Thrive DC.
This time things were different. Angel came looking for help right when a position was opening up at the International Monetary Fund for cleaning work. The Thrive DC staff was impressed with Angel’s drive and demeanor, and immediately recommended him for the position. After a formal interview process and background check Angel was hired!
Angel’s just started his new job and will be making $15/hr with benefits. He plans to stay in the small one-bedroom apartment he’s been renting now for a year and save up money. Angel has a plan, and never wants to worry about becoming homeless ever again.
60 days ago. That’s when Vincent’s life changed.
“I felt like killing myself. I don’t want to feel that way no more.”
Vincent struggled his whole life with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He would get a job and lose it. Live with a friend and lose that too when the drugs and money ran out. For the last 10 years he’s been homeless, living where he can to get by.
Through it all, Thrive DC was there with him.
“I’ve been coming to St. Stephen’s since I was 5 years old in day care, and I’m still coming here 40 years later. But Thrive DC has been a true blessing. It’s helping me so much.”
For the last couple of years, Vincent has been coming to Thrive DC every day. He’s talked to people about his addiction and been to rehab programs, but nothing worked. He never really believed he could get off drugs for good.
But when he met Gabriel, the new Substance Abuse Counselor at Thrive DC, that changed.
“Gabriel looked like an angel. He said ‘I’m going to help you. Just come to group. Just come.’”
“He showed me a better way. I thought I was going to die.”
After a couple of weeks Gabriel was able to convince Vincent to enter a 30 day treatment center. But he wasn’t quite ready.
“I told Gabriel I needed to get my clothes, my clothes. I didn’t want to lose them. He said that he would hold onto them for me. But I was so high, I walked out of the church to get my clothes and fell down the steps. I messed my hand up pretty badly and didn’t come back.”
Vincent later got arrested for drinking, and realized he had reached a “Do or Die” moment. When he was let out he immediately came back to Thrive DC. And Gabriel was waiting for him. Together they signed Vincent up for a 30 day treatment center and this time it stuck.
Vincent recently completed his program and couldn’t be happier. Gabriel has helped him get into 6-month transitional housing near Thrive DC, so for the first time in 10 years Vincent has a safe place to sleep at night and a support group just a few blocks away.
“Now that I’m clean, the plan is to work with Thrive DC to get a job, save my money, and get a place of my own. Then maybe I can help people like I was helped. Maybe be a counselor like Gabriel.”
“I hurt a lot of people with my addiction. I lost my family, I lost my daughter, but I’m going to get all of that back.”
Right now our community is working with Vincent to help him stay sober and find employment. We have six months until his time in transitional housing is up to get him back on his feet and stable.
You can be a part of his journey by donating $25 right now to support Vincent and clients like him. Or, if you want to provide consistent, steady support from homeless to housed, consider joining our Next Step Team as a monthly donor.