As many of us look forward to summer—spending time with family, backyard cookouts, and summer vacations— it can also be a dangerous time of the year for someone experiencing homelessness in Nashville. Imagine living on the streets during our unbearably humid summer heat, with no food, no water, and no shelter.
While most of us can cool off by staying inside our homes, or dropping by an air-conditioned coffee shop, those facing homelessness don’t have that luxury. Just ask Larry.
With hopes for a better job, Larry made his way to Nashville. But no matter how far or fast he moved he could not escape his addiction to alcohol.
“I’m originally from New York City,” shared Larry. “I came to Nashville, looking for a job change, a life change.”
At just 54 years old, Larry has experienced at least five episodes of homelessness.
He attributes this to his ongoing battle with the bottle.
“Being homeless is rough,” said Larry. “I’ve stayed in different homeless shelters, slept in my car, and at times I’ve even slept outside. I usually steered clear of the local parks because I worried that wild animals might prey on me while I was asleep.”
According to Larry, sleeping outside can be extremely dangerous. In fact, he says when you’re homeless, you never really rest.
“There were times I would walk up and down the streets all night,” said Larry. “I never stayed in one spot for very long. Between the risk of being robbed if I fell asleep or being asked to move along by police patrolling the area, there was no point.”
“I was never sure when I would sleep, when I was going to be able to eat, or when I might get something to drink. I had no idea where my next dollar was going to come from. It was exhausting.”
While most people would walk right past Larry and pretend they didn’t notice him, he does recall a nice man who allowed him to sit in the shade outside his business. Larry recalls his compassion as he would often come outside and offer him water.
“I was fed up with living that way,” shared Larry. “I knew that wasn’t the life I was meant to live. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. A guy I knew told me about the Mission. I have no idea why, maybe God prompted him. Whatever the reason, I’m so glad he did.”
While Larry has tried different programs in the past, he says this is the first time he’s been in a faith-based program.
“This program has been the best thing to ever happen to me. For the first time in my life, I’ve got hope. And hope is a beautiful thing.”
Over the last several months, Larry’s life has been radically transformed. He’s given his life to the Lord; he’s found a church home, he’s graduated from the Mission’s program, he now has a full-time job, he’s reconnected with his family, and he is making plans for his future.
For those who are still living on the streets, battling homelessness and addiction, Larry had this to say, “You don’t have to live like that. You need to go to the Mission. They have food, clothing, water, shelter, and, most importantly, there is hope. It will change your life— I’m living proof.”
Larry is so grateful to those who support the Mission.
“This program saved my life. I’m so thankful for the life coaches, the support staff, everyone I’ve met—they have all been so wonderful. I can’t thank them enough. It’s obvious they care—and that means the world to me.”