It’s been a long journey to get to this point, but Greg, 55, will be giving thanks for many things this Thanksgiving.
For much of his life, Greg struggled with underemployment. So he was thrilled to finally land a full-time job with a growing business. It wasn’t long, however, before the situation turned sour. His supervisor discriminated against him because of his age and size and reduced his hours. He ended up working only 15-20 hours a week on minimum wage and could not afford rent.
With the help of his church, Greg made his way to Our Saviour’s Housing. In October 2013, after a 74-day-stay in emergency shelter, he was accepted into Our Saviour’s two-year Transitional Housing Program. Then, on July 6, 2015, he entered Permanent Supportive Housing. Since then, Greg has lived in Northeast in a two-bedroom apartment that he shares with a friend from transitional housing.
With stable housing, Greg has been able to improve his job prospects. Last April, he graduated from an IT program and eventually plans to look for a job in his field. But for now, he’s working as a front desk attendant for a friend who owns an auto shop. Decades ago, Greg went to school to become an auto mechanic. But he found that despite easily learning the theories, his “10 thumbs” – as he jokingly puts it – ended his career before it began. Now he gets to use his knowledge without touching the vehicles!
For the first time in years, Greg feels fulfilled in his work and hopes to switch to full-time after the New Year. He was even able to buy a car from the shop this fall and loves having his own wheels!
Greg enjoys the independence his new housing, work, and car provide. He used to rely on friends for rides or a little money when things got tough. Now he gets to help others by building up the communities that have supported him. He volunteers three nights a week as the captain of the sound team at his church. He also participates in a Celebrate Recovery group (26 years sober!). As Greg likes to say, “It’s all just people helping people.”
Another factor increasing Greg’s independence is his improved health. With the help of counseling and the bariatric surgery he underwent last spring, Greg now weighs 370 pounds – down 105 pounds! He continues to log his daily food intake and see his dietician three times a year. Wearing a pedometer, he also pushes himself to reach 5000-6000 steps a day. These efforts have not gone unrewarded, as Greg notes that he can be a lot more active now than he could before.
For all of his success – losing weight, learning a trade, securing a job and housing – Greg credits the support and stability he’s found at OSH:
“This program has a good system with good people. They kept me accountable. More than that, the people working here go above and beyond their job. I don’t know how they care about me this much, but I’m so grateful they do.”