By Lydia Bailey
Editor’s note: Lydia Bailey is a Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry volunteer coordinator at the 2100 Lakeside Road Men’s Shelter.
There are many stories of hope to encourage those who have recently arrived at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter. Many individuals at the shelter are facing challenges that seem too large to overcome.
The individuals below faced the same challenges, but are now living hopeful lives. The stories below are examples of the many hopeful stories that are heard daily at the 2100 Lakeside Road Men’s Shelter.
When you’re homeless there’s nothing. You can’t imagine how it feels; estranged from everything; nothing but you; no money; no family.
How do I get out of this?
Where do I start?
Where do I go?
Where do I get a job?
-Resume for a job?
-Clothes for the job?
-Transportation for job?
What do I do about legal issues, or substance abuse?
It is a hopeless situation but people have gotten out of it, again and again.
Robert was living in his car, while trying to go to school and hold down a job. You can’t get services if you’re living in your car, so eventually he came into the men’s shelter and got connected with services. He worked his way through the communities of 2100 and went into independent housing (Shelter + Care) in December 2007. He’s still in housing and still in school.
Michael was “trouble,” for years at the shelter. “You used to see him under the influence, raising hell, and good at egging others on,” said a staff person. “All of a sudden, you didn’t see him with the trouble. His whole group was drunk and dumb but he was sober and working; he stuck out from the rest.”
He began working at the front desk at 2100, got in work-study, completed Employment Readiness, and did very well. Michael moved into his own home this year and is looking for work.
Gina works at 2100 and recounts: “My first husband died of heroin overdose, second of suicide; my loved ones and friends lost their lives due to addiction. I was addicted to heroin, methadone, alcohol, and valium for 28 years and homeless from 1984-1987.”
In October 1994, Gina was hospitalized at the Metro Health Hospital with Hepatitis C and Cirrhosis of the liver. She was told that she was going to die if she kept drinking. At one point, she tried to leave the hospital in my hospital gown to get a drink.
“But I’ve been sober since May 1995, except for cigarettes. I had good sponsors and co-sponsors. Then Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) paid for me to go to Vocational Guidance Shelter & Service (VGS),” she said. “I worked at the Cleveland Sight Center between classes, and got computer skills. I got a driver’s license and an old car.”
In 2002 she got married, bought a house, and a new car. Later she received her Chemical Dependency Counselor License. Today she works at the shelter giving daily support for those taking their first steps toward self-sufficiency.
Brian is a veteran who arrived at 2100 with severe mental health issues. He owed his landlord a lot of money in back rent. The shelter and the Veteran’s Administration worked at getting his payments cut down. He paid off his balance and now lives affordable senior housing in St. Clair Place.
David arrived at the shelter after serving 11 years in prison. He was looking for employment with no success, and then applied to Cuyahoga Community College. A staff person at 2100 began working closely with him. David eventually found employment, got an apartment, and recently made the Dean’s list for his outstanding academic record.
When Peter arrived at the shelter, he had two big strikes against him: chemical dependency and a criminal record for sexually oriented offenses. This made it extremely hard for him to find employment and housing.
He lived in the shelter for three years and suffered a relapse along the way. Peter completed the Employment Readiness class and Housing Readiness class at 2100. The staff never gave up on him. Peter has been sober for eight months and lives in independent housing. His goal is to go back to college to get his Bachelor of Arts degree.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #87 in July 2009 in Cleveland Ohio.