“Before moving to Tennessee to live with my brother, I’d been the primary caretaker for my parents who lived in California,” said Robert. “They were both in failing health, but we made them a promise never to put them in a nursing home. I took care of them until they each died peacefully at home.” After his parents passed away, Robert’s brother invited him to live with him and his wife and help out around their farm. Robert was on disability, and with no other family to speak of, it seemed like a good idea. He’d been living with them for two years when a disagreement led to a physical altercation and his brother had him arrested.
“After eight days in jail, I was released,” said Robert. “But after what happened with my brother, I didn’t know where to go. The jail made arrangements to bring me to the Mission.”
“This is my first time in a shelter. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I can’t read or write, so I was reluctant to leave the shelter and try to navigate the city on my own.”
After learning about the Mission’s Guest Volunteer Program, Robert decided to sign up. This program allowed him some additional privileges in exchange for volunteering around the facility.
“One of my volunteer jobs is folding sheets and towels. It keeps me busy, and it feels good knowing I’m productive. The best part about this program is the friendships I’ve made with other guests. I’m now a part of a community.”
While Robert is grateful for the three meals a day and the clean clothing he receives, he’s especially thankful for the case managers. “They listen. They provide structure. They care about our well-being, and they keep everybody safe. And every day, one of them will read Scripture to us. It’s nice for someone like me who can’t read.”
“Coming here was a blessing,” said Robert. “I’ve been clean and sober for eight years. I’ve made friends with people who are also walking that same path. I’m getting ready to move out. A couple of us are going to share an apartment. I’m looking forward to the future.”