Dishon on the Path to Empowerment

“The most important thing I’ve learned is empowerment. Knowing that I’m valuable, lovable, and important.”

A year and a half ago, Dishon Haynes was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his partner and three little girls—Dasani, Makiya, and Gennycia—ages 8, 6, and 3. When his mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, his partner moved to the Twin Cities to be with her. With a steady job, Dishon stayed behind for a year, sending money along to help.

Then, when Dishon lost his job 7 months ago, he too made the journey to Minneapolis. When he arrived, he had no where to live. A tough rental market and steep medical bills made housing difficult to find. His mother-in-law was already staying with OSH—first through transitional housing and then through permanent supportive housing. His partner and girls were living in an “interim” house located near OSH.

Dishon couldn’t live in the interim house because, like many programs for homeless women and children, men are not allowed. Through the weekly shelter lottery, he immediately got connected to OSH. After three weeks at the shelter, a spot opened in the men’s transitional house, where he’s stayed ever since—right next door to his family!

According to Dishon, transitional housing has opened doors for him to focus on the many different pieces that will help him secure stability. When your energy is consumed by meeting basic necessities like shelter, things like health, education, employment, and personal development are hard to pursue. Now, Dishon is making strides in each of these areas.

He’s most excited about going back to school and is currently enrolled in Twin Cities Rise, a job training program his case manager recommended. He’s learning the skills he needs to not only get a living wage job but keep one too. He says with some disbelief, “I have quit jobs! Really, I have. I quit because I didn’t know how to deal with people. Someone would say something, and I’d blow up. I’m learning how to deal.” He’s currently waiting to hear about an interview with a full-time position assembling medical devices at a plant in Minnetonka.

The biggest change for Dishon, however, goes far deeper than practical work skills. “The most important thing I’ve learned? Empowerment. Knowing that I’m lovable, valuable, and important.”

Looking towards the future, Dishon has nothing but hope: “I’m excited about my journey ahead. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. I wasn’t always a saint. It feels good to make the transition from what I was to what I am now. I just feel like a different person. I’m so full of life and ready for the world. I’m so proud of myself. I found peace with myself. I used to be angry about things I had no control over. Now, I control my own feelings. It was like I was learning myself over. And I know the sky is the limit. I’m going further.”

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