Jerry, at the age 55 years old, recently retired from a long and successful career in the construction industry. Among the many strong construction skill sets he had cultivated over the years, Jerry was a master welder of steel. He also proudly lays claim to being a “Union Man” for well over two decades. He is also a proud father of several adult children. And he is proud grandfather of several grandchildren. In fact, he proudly displays small photo of his six year old smiling granddaughter in the front of his wallet.
For approximately the last 15 years, Jerry had been plagued with the demons of a severe heroin addiction. During this period of time, despite earning a very generous income as a valued construction contractor in the Midwestern region, his addiction to heroin had left him chronically homeless for over these last 15 years. Over this span of his life, he found himself living in run down – close to being condemned – motels. Also, if Jerry did not utilize Porchlight’s men’s drop-in shelter, it was not atypical, that he found himself sleeping in various parks in the summer time, and sleeping in the back seat of his car in the dead of winter. All tenuous circumstances were induced by a binding addiction to heroin.
Jerry reached a personal crossroads of sorts last year, when in the midst of “typical weekend” heroin binge, he overdosed. His weekend binge put him in a coma for eighteen days. At his most acute point in his overdose, his heart had stopped beating for over six minutes. (This is medically documented in his hospital patient files.)
For over the last ten years, Jerry had been consistently accessing Porchlight’s homeless services. This ran the gamut from sleeping at the men’s drop-in shelter, to utilizing the day resources at the Hospitality House, to most recently, accessing Porchlight outreach services offered in the drop-in shelter. For the last two years, Jerry sporadically sought out Porchlight outreach services. The recommendation had always been for Jerry to start off accessing sober living housing. He had always turned down this housing opportunity. Things changed when his “sideline” heroin activity literally killed him last year. After two years of being respectfully offered sober living opportunities, Jerry finally made the decision to accept this reasonable pathway to long term, stable, sustainable housing. And this week Porchlight outreach facilitated his move in to sober living housing! We are all wishing Jerry all the best on his figurative and literal new lease on life!
By: Glenn, Porchlight Outreach Worker
I am a 60 yr. old Air Force Vet. I served in 75-77. I was mostly stationed at Castle Air Force Base in California. As a B-52 Crew Chief, I ate, slept & dreamed of 1 aircraft. After my service, I went into construction which I spent my next 31 yrs. in Drywall/Painting primarily. I worked on Residential and Commercial jobs. I moved back to Wisconsin in 1986 due to a family tragedy. I never went back to California.
I’ve lost everything, 3x’s in my life. The last time was when I went into jail in 2004. I continued going in & out of jail, and I continued drinking and went onto the streets. I finally went into Treatment at the VA, through buildings 7, 6 & 5 for a year. I got my last DUI in 2015. Bldg. 7 referred me here, to the Veterans Transitional Housing Program, almost 2 years ago. “If Porchlight & VTHP wasn’t here, I wouldn’t still be sober. I would probably have moved back to California; if I’d lived.”
Written By: Tim and Robin (Porchlight Case Manager) Photo by Keith
I am a 47 yr. old Navy Veteran, who served on the USS Independence CV-62. At the time I served, we were the oldest ship on the water. We were based in Yokosuka, Japan. I traveled all over the Gulf & Atlantic. That’s where my drinking career began. I had never really been much of a drinker until then. The one thing about being in the Navy; you really do see the world. But I also saw some things that I’m dealing with now.
Being here, I was finally able to seek steady health care. By engaging in my treatment, I got diagnosed with PTSD, and I’m finally getting the help I need. I had to become homeless to find out I was eligible for services. I was repeatedly homeless for the last 10 years due to different circumstances. I’ve had a lot of highs & lows, but this has helped stop the cycle. “The housing, the support, the VA connection, have all really helped me.”
Written By: Gavin and Robin (Porchlight Case Manager) Photo by Keith
I’m a 31 yr. old Army Vet who served in Iraq with the 25th Airborne from ’05-’09. I was a Forward Observer, which means I spoke with all the aircraft, artillery & mortars. I was injured when I returned back to my Station in Anchorage, Alaska. I got hooked on drugs during my recovery from my injuries. I continued using them after I moved back home to cope with my chronic pain & TBI frustration. I got clean for a little while, but relapsed, and ended up on the streets. I admitted myself to the V A Hospital for Treatment. I stayed in treatment until I could get into Veterans Transitional Housing Program.
I am supported here. The staff is here for me. They remind me when I need to be somewhere, help me with transportation, and they’re here when I’m feeling down. “I am safe here. I don’t want to think about what would’ve happened to me, if this place hadn’t been here.”
Written By: Cory and Robin (Porchlight Case Manager) Photo by Keith
Meet Jason. He is showing off his keys to his brand new apartment and his brand new work schedule for his second shift job at
Wal-Mart, where just got hired. He also works consistently and diligently at the Concourse Hotel. Jason’s literacy level would be that around a seventh grader but his success can demonstrate how hard work, focused discipline, and persistence can pay off no matter what one’s circumstance and abilities. Congratulations on a job well done Jason!
By: Glenn Ruiz, Porchlight Outreach Worker