Art’s story embodies the spirit of strength and perseverance, not only through Art’s passion and drive to turn his life around but through the dedicated team who never gave up on him and helped him every step of the way along his journey off the streets and into permanent housing.
Art was living on the streets for seven years, after his mother’s passing. “I was lost out there. I didn’t feel anything. I had no emotional attachment to life.” Leslie, a Homeless Outreach Worker, knew Art of the seven years he lived on the streets. She checked on him almost every day asking him if he wanted to get off the streets. Art recalls, “I keep telling her I didn’t need her help, until one day I was ready.”
That’s when Art was introduced to Hope and Anthony, his FSP Case Managers who would help him enter into a shelter. Anthony recounts his first meeting with Art and how impressed he was, and continues to be, by Art’s desire to change his life for the better, “When we first met Art he had an energy that immediately made me believe in this relationship and this partnership that we have had since the very beginning. Art has gone above and beyond the call of any duty. He has jumped through hoops to accomplish every goal every step of the way. From the beginning, he made it clear that we are doing our job but he also has his part and he wanted to do what was needed of him. He would problem solve and find a way to get things done even when times were tough. Even with all of the barriers associated with COVID-19, he kept going. It’s been a huge pleasure and joy to work with Art and to see how far we have come as a team and how far we have yet to go.”
A huge part of Art’s journey includes his path towards sobriety. One of the first things Art wanted to do was get clean so he asked his team for help, “I said I don’t want you to give me the keys to my apartment until I am clean of narcotics or alcohol. I said I won’t be no good. I won’t be able to take care of myself” recounts Art. Hope and Anthony introduced Art to Charles, a Substance Abuse Case Manager who has been a part of Art’s team ever since. Charles too was struck by Art’s positive outlook, “I was overjoyed by his passion and his excitement for wanting to get clean, stay clean and do something with his life. Working with Art has been a joy. This is why I come to work! This is why we do what we do. This is not a job, it’s a journey, an adventure. You never know what to expect when you come to work. I am happy that I was in a position to be able to work with him. He’s never lost the passion and the excitement about his journey. That’s powerful, that’s priceless.” Today Art has over 17 months of sobriety and contributes his success to the help of Charles and the rest of his team.
Art now celebrates the first month in his new apartment over coffee and donuts with his entire team! He looks forward to reconnecting with his son. Looking to the future Art wants to help others like him. He hopes to pursue a career as an Outreach worker, “Outreach is a very important thing. It’s the first door opening to people on the streets.”
The relationship that Art and his team have built is touching and inspiring. His story is proof that it is never too late to make the decision to better your life. That with dedication, and a little support, change is possible. “The People Concern came along and they changed my life. They gave me hope, they gave me a reason to live again and for that I am grateful. Today I am responsible. I am back in society. I got my life back. I’m not lost. My mother is looking down on me and she sees that I am ok, and that’s the most important thing.”