“I felt that I belonged somewhere. That someone cared about me. It’s great to be surrounded by positive-minded people.”
Always cheerful with a smile on his face, Tim exudes hopefulness. With a lot to look forward to in coming months, he has good reason. But that wasn’t always the case.
Tim’s journey into homelessness is not uncommon. He had a home and a job. He lost the job. Then he lost the home. Of course, not everyone who loses a job becomes homeless. But without a support network to catch the fallout, it’s a lot more likely.
For an entire year, Tim moved in and out of different shelters. Then, something unexpected happened. In June of 2013, Tim was visiting the downtown library when he met Derek. As shelter manager, Derek told him about OSH. Tim had been through the system before, but he immediately knew there was something different about OSH. He says, “For Derek to not know me and to suggest I come here was encouraging.”
Tim stayed at OSH’s Emergency Shelter for 60 days, appreciating the clean, structured environment that allowed him to focus on his priorities–the main one, of course, being to find stable, affordable housing.
On August 16, 2013, Tim took a major step towards his goal. He entered OSH’s Transitional Housing, a 2-year program designed to give residents the time they need to build skills and, ultimately, move out on their own.
Tim moved into a house with 9 other men, each with his own furnished room. The first few months weren’t easy. As he tried to adjust to his new environment, Tim also struggled with past physical and emotional trauma, for which he turned to drugs. After 5 months, he was asked to leave to seek help in a residential treatment facility.
Rather than resentful, Tim was thankful for the push into treatment. “For [staff] to care enough to know something was wrong and to push me was important,” Tim says. “Their wanting me to get better made it worth me going.”
With the chance of coming back to his place in Transitional Housing, Tim focused on getting better. And he did. On April 4, 2014, after 3 months in treatment, Tim rejoined his old housemates. Today, 8 months clean, he largely credits a supportive community for his progress: “I was proud of myself. And I felt that I belonged somewhere. That someone cared about me. It’s great to be surrounded by positive-minded people. I love my community. It made it okay to want something, to want to do more.”
Now, Tim is back to working on his GED and volunteering. He’s especially excited to start volunteering with the Children’s Museum as a “Butterfly Interpreter,” teaching kids about butterflies!
He’s also enjoying the benefits of community living. “We’re all okay with each other. We try to address problems and help out with chores. If something is dirty for [one], it’s dirty for all of us; when I clean, it’s not just for me.” Each member of the house learns from every other, including learning to respect one another.
That same love to community drives Tim in another of his current projects. He’s working with a fellow resident and staff on creating an OSH Men’s Group. “Sometimes men just need an outlet to talk and break down having to always be tough,” Tim explains. The Men’s Group hopes to create this outlet through talking, group volunteer activities, and educational meetings. Although it’s still in the planning stages, Tim is eager to get going. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as it moves forward!