The first 9 years of Brad’s life were as happy and carefree as any child’s should be.
He was quiet and well-behaved, maintained a B average in school, and especially enjoyed playing sports. Then, everything changed in an instant. At age 10, he witnessed his mother’s suicide.
After this tragic loss, Brad always seemed to be searching—searching for himself, for happiness, and for community. He lived with his grandmother, his only remaining family, who cared for him as he struggled to deal with a world that no longer made sense.
The effects of trauma followed him into adulthood, shadowing his relationships and the brief sense of purpose he found after joining the National Guard. He eventually turned to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain. “I never realized why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Brad notes.
As he walked down this path, Brad’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away soon after. He’d been living with her before her death, so besides losing the only stable thing in his life, Brad also suddenly found that he had nowhere to go. He was homeless. At first, he stayed with a friend, until that turned into hopping from couch to couch and finally to living under a bridge.
The memory of his grandmother is what ultimately helped Brad turn his life around. “My grandmother said I needed to change my lifestyle before she died,” he explains. “[One night,] I felt her presence and my mother’s, asking me, ‘What are you doing?’ I was scared of dying.”
From that moment, he began to understand his destructive behaviors and how deeply his mother’s death had affected him. He resolved to quit using but still lacked the necessary support to get housed.
In 2010, a year and a half sober, Brad learned about the weekly Minneapolis shelter lottery, where people enter their name to access openings. After 9 years on the streets, that night he slept in a bed at Our Saviour’s Shelter.
“Staff here made me feel at home and like I was worth something,” Brad proclaims.
From shelter, he continued in OSH’s two housing programs. First, in Transitional Housing, he learned to establish a daily routine, take care of his own room, and build community with the 9 other men in the house. Then, when he switched into Permanent Supportive Housing, on August 6th, 2013, Brad moved into his very own apartment. After more than 13 years of homelessness, he simply says, “[It’s my] fortress of solitude. It’s mine, and I’m happy.”
Two years later, Brad still makes it a priority to stay connected to OSH, even with his own place to return to each night. After a lifetime of searching, he’s not about to give up the healing and community he’s found here. He’s an especially loyal member of Lifestyle Lift-up, the health club where residents increase wellness through activities like cooking classes and yoga.
Beyond Lifestyle Lift-up classes, Brad volunteers with OSH and encourages other residents to join activities.
“I try to better myself and help others,” he explains. “I’m trying to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s OSH. They’re good for my soul. Good for me. I want to thank OSH for this opportunity. They made it possible for me.”