A Promise Kept

Before his brother’s passing, Larry made a promise. Stuck in a toxic cycle of alcohol, gambling, theft, and jail, he promised to leave his hometown of Milwaukee and make a fresh start. So after his brother’s funeral, Larry hopped on a bus to Minneapolis.

That bus ride, as Larry likes to say, is when he had his first bit of luck. Another passenger told him to go to Our Saviour’s Housing, “because it was the best.” He got a bed at the shelter within a week and then quickly obtained a temp job. That temp job turned into a permanent position. He saved up his money, moved out of shelter, and seemed to be on his way in his new life.

However, several weeks later, Larry lost the job due to lack of transportation. The temp agency arranged for transportation, but once it became permanent Larry had to find his own way. When the coworker he carpooled with took another job, he was stuck. Without income, he lost his housing and ended up back on the street.

Then Larry started drinking again, setting off a downward spiral that would last for the next six years. Whenever he could, however, he returned to Our Saviour’s Shelter. It provided one safe refuge in his life. He formed a strong relationship with the weekly onsite psychologist. Over time, she helped him recognize that he had depression, and he started taking medication. About the same time, Larry learned about Our Saviour’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program, applied, and moved into an apartment a few months later.

After more than six years without a home, housing felt incredible to Larry. He says, “I felt on top of the world instead of having the whole world on my shoulders. When you are homeless, you always need to be ready for anything. You’re living day to day with uncertainty as the norm.” The joy, however, was short-lived. Addiction wasn’t done with Larry, and he lost two apartments because of his behavior while drinking. These events pushed Larry to finally seek the help he needed. He admits, “I was in denial about my drinking. Losing my housing made me realize that I couldn’t handle it like I thought.”

With the support of OSH, Larry started treatment. He didn’t expect much at first, planning to put in the least amount of effort possible, but ended up surprising himself. He says, “I started talking, and then I just wanted to keep talking. You wouldn’t have recognized me then; I was carrying around so much hatred—anger that had been with me for years. It was the beginning of letting go.”

Larry has remained successfully housed at his new apartment for two years now. He loves coming back to a cozy place that feels like home. The first thing he does when he walks in the door is kick off his shoes and feel the firmness of the floor on his bare feet. He recently fulfilled his dream of buying a grandfather clock. “My mama would be so proud. It was a dream of hers to own a grandfather clock. I always thought that I would get her one, but she passed before I could make that happen. Now I have one. I love it, but it is hers.”

Although Larry still occasionally battles his old demons, he has more resources and skills to help keep him on track. He continues therapy for his anger and depression and says he’s learned how to be more patient, humble, and empathetic. Larry knows that having stable housing has been critical to this growth and recovery. He appreciates the care he’s received, saying, “Without OSH I would be dead or in the penitentiary. It would be the same for a lot of other people too. They’re different than a lot of places because they’re personal and value you.”