I am a cancer survivor and being here has probably been one of the key factors in keeping me here on this planet alive. I could talk to somebody and I didn't have to fight that battle alone.
It's an uplifting experience, you know this is a transition place but you still feel safe and you don't feel like a hobo. You are still giving your pride and dignity here, when you take that away there's not much else that's left.
Growing up I always wanted to join the service and I chose the Navy because it allowed me to travel the world, live on board the ship, and being around different cultures. After I got out I was struggling with PTSD symptoms and things didn't go the way it should have. I moved back to Missouri and discovered this fine organization, MOVE-STL. They helped me not be homeless, which eliminated a lot of stressors in my life. I could focus on making myself a better person and a better father for my kids.
I’m a veteran from the Airforce. I got into a bad situation a few years ago when my baby was born prematurely and passed away, it went downhill from there. While I was homeless, someone set me up with this program. I was going through a lot of problems and MOVE-STL has helped me ever since. I’m working to become a music teacher, I don’t know where I would be without them.
To me sobriety means taking responsibility for having a mental health issue. That's what sobriety is because the only reason I ever drank was to deal with my pain. That was it and you can run, but you can't run from pain forever. You just have to turn around and face it.
Fishing was a passion of mine; I was fishing in 2000 and stepped into a hole. The water was in over my head and it was cold as I gasped in a bunch of water. I thought they got it all out of my lungs, but some water was still in there. When they finally found it, they had to remove 30% of my left lung due to pneumonia and infection.
I joined the military after college didn't work out and while in the military, I got into skydiving. I was in the right place and the right time, I was on the Miller Skydiving team. I also lucked out with this community at MOVE-STL.
22 years is a long time, but I feel good about giving those years to the military. Now, I'm working on my retirement and look forward to enjoying a new chapter in my life. I came across MOVE-STLwith my social work background, while trying to maintain guardianship of my granddaughter.
Here’s a story I’d like to share with my boys: when I joined the military, they were ‘laxing on the hair rule, so black women could wear braids. I wanted micro braids and while in Italy, there’s this small town headed north of Naples. It’s a town made up of Ghanaians and Nigerians, it was as if I stepped onto the continent of Africa. I went to a braid shop and they stopped everything in the middle of the day to have coffee and tiramisu. It was so great watching the adaptation of two cultures. It was a great experience and one day I’ll share that story with them.
I lost my apartment in downtown St. Louis and I went to stay with a friend. I heard about St. Patrick’s Center and they mentioned MOVE-STL. The landlords sold the building from under us and so I called MOVE-STL and they were very welcoming. Bill was like from out of a movie, like a Ned Stark type guy. He said I could move in, he showed me around. I thought, where’s the camera? Is this real? Him letting me move in early allowed me to get into cooking school early. I went to school with no worries.
This program gave me the ability to not have to worry about where I was going to stay every night. The staff here is awesome, I love them. They are helping me get on my feet to go out on my own and be more prosperous in life. I like my job, becauseI want to help others. It gives you the satisfaction of helping them know they can do the same thing I have done.
Doing nothing gets you nowhere. Success is the best form of revenge. MOVE-STL has helped me focus on moving forward and helped me make new friends in the community. Really good people in the MOVE-STL community. If anyone gets a phone number or card to MOVE-STL they need to call, because it’s a life changing experience.
It’s so up and down. I can be watching TV and then I start feeling bad. It’s just so unpredictable. From my view, I think, why can’t I just do what they are doing? It’s not just depression, it’s PTSD and its hindering. Has being in the military played a role in your depression? Yes, a little bit. I think I had it before, but after war it changes you.
“But as it is written, Eye have not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”
At an early age, I had a relationship with God. I was doing really well, I grew up middle class and we lost everything because my mother became ill. She told us that God would take care of us. It worked for a minute and then stopped working. I said to God, "My mother never lied to me and she said you would take care of us." After I said that, the most beautiful thing happened, money no longer had any value to me. The closest thing that describes that feeling is First Corinthians Chapter 2:9.
I found out about MOVE-STL through a Stand Down and was introduced to the MOVE-STL case manager, Mike Pierce. I talked to him about how I was sleeping in my truck in the parking lot of Shop N Save with my 2-year-old son. MOVE-STL moved me in as soon as they could. I was trying to make sure my son had food in his belly and he laughed and played. This place means a lot to me, you have everything you need here.
When I was stationed at Ft. Bragg I got hooked on crack, that’s what got me out of the military. It was snuck upon me, I didn’t actually know what I was given, but then I was hooked. I told my wife what happened, I told my First Sargent what happened and told them that I would look into how much was moving on post for them. Because of this, I was honorably discharged. I wouldn’t wish that stuff on my worst enemy. When I had my son, I realized I needed to stop my habit. My son’s mother left us and we lost our house.
I was in transitional housing in a bad environment. I’m an ex-felon and I changed my life from where I was to who I am now. I was in a cauldron of bad people. The people I was around weren’t trying to make their lives better, but I spent all of my time in prison changing who I was. My son was a big influence on why I wanted to change. When I went to a halfway house, I knew I needed to get out of there immediately. I talked to Mike Pierce and Bill. They were able to move me in in a day or two and it changed my life. I remember exactly where I was at when they called me and told me and I was so happy. It’s like you’re going down a bad river and this felt like it was a life preserver.
They are resourceful here. I like what they do. It would be nice if they could do more for more veterans. You see all these non-profits that don’t use their money for what they say they will, but I don’t see any waste from these guys here. If I’m ever in a spot to donate my money, I would donate it to this organization. I know they help people. When I got my first maintenance job, MOVE-STL helped me purchase a few tools that I needed for the job. They helped when no one else would. They also helped me get my car through hero’s care. They help in a lot of places. It’s amazing how much they have helped me and my wife. They are helping me save up and get to where I want to live. They aren’t just kicking me out the second I become stable. It takes time to build up my credit and I need to stay until I can buy a house. I get off parole in January and they’ve helped me get to this point in my life. The recidivism rate for people who’ve spent time in jail is 70% and they’ve helped me not become the statistic.
Every child deserves to have a mom and dad in their life and it’s disheartening that her mom isn’t here. MOVE is a great place to start. Being with MOVE-STL has given us more freedom. It got me back to where I need to be, so I can move forward, it has made me more driven.
The military was a positive experience in my life. The military was fun, some things I would like to forget, but that’s just the nature of the beast.