Monday, 06 July 2015

Joe's Long Journey Home

Written by Renee Targos
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Joe's Long Journey Home Photo by Lukasz Dunlkowski at flickr.com/photos/lukasz-dunikowski/

Once a person lives on the streets—it’s often a long road to get him back to normal life.

Complicated issues like mental illness or trauma prevent many of the homeless from rebuilding their lives.

Help for the Homeless

Rick Brust, Catholic Charities homeless outreach staff in Flagstaff, Ariz, spent half a decade working with a man named Joe, who spent years living in his car.

Brust first met Joe in 2009 in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Joe was in his 50s and showed signs of mental illness with symptoms like slowed speech and poor concentration.

“He wasn’t interested in getting into a home at that time,” said Brust. “I would get him water, referrals for food, tarps and other things. He never asked for more than what he needed.”

Joe suffered from bi-polar disorder. He avoided help that might address his illness due to his fears of being stigmatized and institutionalized.

For years, Brust would see him during outreach jaunts to common areas where the homeless stayed like the forest and under bridges. Occasionally, Joe would come into the office looking for support.

In the winter of 2014, Joe lived in a small car with a tiny back seat and wasn’t sleeping well. It was freezing, and he decided it was time to get into better shelter.

Building Trust

Because Brust had built a relationship with him, Joe trusted Brust to lead him through the process to get housing with dignity and safety. Joe got assessed and treated for his mental illness. Then, Brust helped Joe with applications for housing and disability support.

Now, Joe is feeling healthier and happier than he’s ever been. He’s got a secure place to live and works as a make-shift mechanic. He’s connected to the Catholic Charities housing forum, which meets once a month, connecting him to a community of people also rebuilding their lives. Brust takes him food boxes when visiting with him.

Because of people like Rick Brust and your support to reach the homeless, people like Joe are finding their way off the streets into a stable residence. Thank you for bringing the miracle of friendship and a stable home into this man’s life.

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