“I’m healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Our Saviour’s does as its title suggests–saves people. [They] gave me insight on how to focus back on living, rather than existing. I am very grateful.”
Before Our Saviour’s Housing, Lafayette was in a “living hell.”
“I was broken and shattered. I was homeless. I lost my marriage. I lost my children. I lost my job. I lost everything. I turned to drugs and drinking as a way of patching up my wounds. Out here, it was ground zero. I didn’t care about living or dying. I just didn’t care.”
It was from this lowest point that Lafayette began to climb his way back up. He decided to live. And the first words he spoke to his case manager were, “I NEED to get off these streets!”
Within his first month at OSH, Lafayette moved out of Emergency Shelter and into Transitional Housing, where he has lived since January 2014. With the security of a roof over his head and a supportive community around him, Lafayette began to thrive. He even discovered a part of himself he had no idea existed: a scholar.
Lafayette entered Minneapolis Community and Technical College for a degree in culinary arts last August, though creative writing has also recently caught his interest. “I learned I have a skill, a gift, that I never knew I had and that I enjoy using.” He laughs with excitement and disbelief at the thought of him, “Laidback Lafayette,” doing well in school!
His eyes light up with pride and accomplishment as he talks about his classes, and he enthusiastically shares pieces of his writing or poems he finds deeply meaningful with others. When he receives praise for his work, he just shrugs humbly and smiles.
This academic lifestyle is new to him. Lafayette never went to high school. In fact, he didn’t finish 8th grade. At age 12, the “day that changed his life,” Lafayette left his home after his step-father beat and raped his sister and his mother kicked her out of the house rather than believe her about what happened.
After that, Lafayette lived on the streets and, as a homeless teen with no support, quickly got caught up in the justice system. He talks about entering prison at age 15 and being released at 25–going in a boy and having to come out and be an adult, of which he knew nothing. Later in life, lacking a positive role model, Lafayette had to figure out on his own how to be a good father to his 6 children. He refuses to be a “deadbeat dad.”
His children provide the motivation to keep moving forward. Lafayette hopes that pursuing his own education will be an example for them. Each morning, his daughters in Chicago text him, “Have a good day at school!” Their support means the world to him. Lafayette also stays focused on the vision of himself wearing a cap and gown at his own graduation ceremony–hopefully in May of 2016.
When asked if Our Saviour’s has made a difference in his life, Lafayette laughs and gestures to himself, saying, “Well, just take a look!”
“I’m healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Our Saviour’s does as its title suggests–saves people. It wasn’t easy committing to sober living, but I found that if you respect the program, eventually you learn to respect yourself. Our Saviour’s gave me insight on how to focus back on living, rather than existing. I am very grateful.”
As he reflects on where he has been and where he is going, Lafayette closes with advice from one of his favorite poems:
“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy” (Desiderata,” Max Ehrmann 1927).