As soon as Jeffrey walks into Karl Travis Men’s Center, it is no secret that he brings a sense of joy and positivity to everyone who gets to know him. Within no time, he has already given a friendly hello to more than a few guests in passing. “Everyone knows me here”, he says. With his warm hearted smile and genuine personality, it doesn’t take long to see why so many people around the shelter know Jeffrey. He was happy to share the story of his inspirational journey.
Around this time last year, Jeffrey was homeless and in the hospital bound to oxygen machines – he was losing hope that things would get better. He spent the prior 9 years in Iraq, and it had taken a major toll on his health and his spirits. “I had a hard time adjusting to normal life again after being in a war zone,” Jeffrey said. As a way to cope from the trauma, he turned to drugs and alcohol. Things took a turn for the worse when Jeffrey lost his job and could no longer afford his home. To make things more challenging, he was continuously in and out of the hospital with breathing issues. Jeffrey didn’t know if he could regain control of his life – that was until he found hope at Presbyterian Night Shelter.
Once Jeffrey entered the program, he began working on setting goals for himself with the help of his case managers and the staff at the Karl Travis Men’s Center. “My first goal was to get control of my health; to get off drugs and alcohol and hopefully reach a point where I no longer needed my oxygen machine.” After a lot of hard work and determination, Jeffrey was able to achieve his goals. “I went to the free classes at True Worth Place to help with my addiction and to get my health better. I love the classes there, they were
But, Jeffrey’s main priority was to get back to living independently in his own home, which meant that finding employment was the next critical step for him. With help from his case manager, after a few months into his stay at the Shelter, Jeffrey was offered the position as a Journey Home Advocate at the Mimi Hunter-Fitzgerald Safe Haven Center – our shelter’s facility for guests who suffer from severe mental illness. As a Journey Home Advocate, Jeffrey is responsible for helping with day-to-day duties such as serving meals, helping with the individual needs of each guest and being a positive mentor. “One of the program managers noticed how positive and uplifting I was to the other guests at the shelter, which is why he offered me a position at Safe Haven. I’ve been working there ever since, and I will continue working there even when I move into my own apartment again.”
Jeffrey is on track to finally move in to his own place soon, but his success does not stop there. He is planning to go back to college in the fall to study mental illness and counseling. His work at Safe Haven has inspired him to learn more about mental health, with the focus of serving those in the homeless community who are struggling with mental illness. “Growing up, I had a family member who suffered with mental illness, so the topic is personal to me in that way. Being here and working at Safe Haven has made me even more interested in mental health becoming a part of my career.”