"When she put me out I lost my job because I didn’t have anywhere to live and I couldn’t keep myself or my clothes clean. I had soap, a toothbrush, and toothpaste, so I went to gas stations and took birdbaths in the restrooms. I slept in abandoned houses, abandoned buildings, in cars, under bridges, behind gas stations, and in dumpsters. Sometimes other street people would offer me food and shelter, but mostly I kept to myself. For 7 years, I was on the streets and it was rough. I’ve been shot at, and I’ve been cold and hungry. In the winters, churches gave out coats and blankets and sleeping bags, so I’d bundle up and make myself a pallet in an abandoned house. I dug through dumpsters to find food to eat. Used to, I wouldn’t admit that, but I don’t mind now. God has brought me to a better place. Things started to change when I met Dr. June Averyt. She helped me through the process of applying for transitional housing and other services, including disability for an illness I have. I’m in permanent housing now and doing much better. I’ve been volunteering at Outreach Housing & Community [an organization founded and directed by Dr. June Averyt] since 2013. I put in 34 hours here every week.
"Mama lives in another state now. I call her now and then and try to say something nice, but I still get the putdowns. When that starts, I just hang up. I don’t need that.
"Eleventh grade was as far as I got in school. I’d been saying for a long time that I wanted to go back and finish, so I finally gathered my courage and took the courses online. Two weeks ago I received the letter of completion, and my high school diploma’s on the way! I’ve been through a lot, but I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. God's had my back the whole time."