Choices and Changes

Facing Homelessness in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Homelessness

Neil’s Story. He is 38 years old.

Well I lost my job, and that was a trigger effect.  Now I knew about the local shelter—last volunteered there ‘bout 15 years ago.  And there was hope.  Sometimes it is your fault: my madness, my addiction, mental illness, and my trauma, but lots of homeless people do have a choice.  It’s all about choices and changes, and about changing your own self.                     

You do not have to be homeless. That is a lie from the Devil.

Some people aren’t as lucky like me, because I am a functional addict.  I worked at a manufacturing job for fifteen years.  The factory laid me off, and I didn’t even have enough money to live off, and not enough to survive off. Here at the local shelter they gave me another tool box, and in that box they put Jesus, and Jesus says you don’t have to be in the position that you’re in.

The shelter put me in the extended stay ‘cause I had always been workin’. Unemployment hadn’t run out, so still I looked for jobs, but then my character defects came in, and out on the streets I went and used cocaine.  ‘Cause I used I had to stay out of the shelter for 30 days, but I didn’t have to sleep outside. So I went to the filling station for 30 nights and sat on the bench inside from 6pm to 6am. Then I went back, and because of my history, and because of my history I went into the long-term program. It was good that being in an addiction program I lost my identity, ‘cause see my identity was a functioning crack addict.

I took a chance to get into the extended program, and I said if I don’t have a job by March 25, I’m gonna go back into the program and take it seriously. I looked and looked for jobs, but no one would hire me, and then I argued with God, and he said to go into the extended program.  And in my prayers I know that’s what God intended me to do.  Fortunately I did not get a job so I went into the program and gained 40 pounds. I have now been clean and sober for 11 months, and have been practicing religion.

Now I realized that you don’t have to lose your identity, and if you follow the guidelines you put together for your recovery you can be yourself with a lot of grace, and with praying every day and reading scriptures and devotions all things are possible through Christ.  The shelter gave me strength to where I don’t want to get high no more, and my goal is to be gone in September.

When I leave the shelter I want to get certified for small engine repair, and want to start a job, but out there in your madness you don’t think about it, but I have been taught to notice my old way like: behavior, addiction, mental illness, and trauma.  So we need to be still and know that He is God.  You gotta be still you gotta make choices you can survive with and be a productive citizen.  If I ever get rich I’m gonna open a house called “Under the Bridge House,” where I will use puppets to preach and teach people.

This story originally appeared in Facing Homelessness in Fort Wayne, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Lutheran Social Services and the Office of the Mayor in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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