Eddie came to Pinellas Hope with a note and his belongings. His note explained his circumstances and helped him communicate since he sometimes gets nervous and overwhelmed. But it wasn’t that easy. Eddie arrived on a Tuesday (Pinellas Hope accepts new residents once weekly, on Tuesdays) only to learn that there was no room for him. He had to wait until the following Tuesday’s intake to come to Pinellas Hope. That Tuesday Eddie arrived and with tears in his eyes he joined the Pinellas Hope community. Since arriving at Pinellas Hope, Eddie has worked hard to belong and contribute. He helps with the dinners in our kitchen and is a friend to all. His cottage is always spotless, and he is very proud of where he lives. His heart is full of the love of Jesus Christ as you can tell as soon as you meet him. Eddie has also worked hard to overcome his nervousness, even speaking in public at a recent Pinellas Hope Open House!
Rodney’s story is truly an inspirational one. He came to Pinellas Hope in March 2018 after being hit by a motorcycle. The accident caused considerable damage to his right arm which resulted in the loss of use of his arm and hand. Before coming to Pinellas Hope he and his family was struggling as stress took a toll on his life. At the time of the accident, Rodney was living with his young daughter and her mother. After the accident, with Rodney unable to work, they were forced to move out of state and he has not seen them since.
Ultimately, Rodney rebounded. He didn’t allow all these hardships and stresses to get him down or slow him down. He decided to take the accident and use it as an opportunity. He taught himself to write again with his left hand. Prior to his accident he was a talented artist and skilled in cutting men’s hair. So, what did he do? He taught himself to draw and cut hair again all with his left arm. His positive spirit continued, as he worked through the Pinellas Hope program to successfully completed his High School diploma (GED) through our on-site partnership with Pinellas County schools. He is now enrolled in barber class at Pinellas Technical College!
Rodney is diligently searching for employment but has found it difficult to land a job due to his physical limitation. He is not letting this get him down and he continues to apply for employment while working with Vocational Rehabilitation to improve the use of his left arm and hand. Rodney is undoubtedly bound for success and most importantly continually expresses his gratitude and thankfulness for what he has despite how much he has lost. That is truly inspirational.
William and Pequena Osbourne: at Pinellas Hope it is not uncommon to have couples who come to seek shelter. William and Pequena are one such couple.
William and Pequena lived in Lakeland, Florida, where William was using drugs. His drug use eventually led to a collapse in their finances and ultimately, they lost their home. Eventually, William sought treatment and after 3 weeks he was admitted to Turning Point, a substance abuse program in Pinellas County. Not wanting to be alone, Pequena came to Pinellas County with William and found herself at Safe Harbor, a homeless shelter run by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.
After William was released from treatment they didn’t know where to go. Pequena had heard about Pinellas Hope but resisted coming. After looking for other places to live, they were facing living on the streets. Pequena was angry that William’s substance abuse would leave them on the streets. However, with the encouragement of Officer Rich Linkiewicz, the St. Petersburg police department’s Community Resource Officer who helps the homeless access shelters to receive the assistance they need, the Osbournes were accepted into Pinellas Hope one intake Tuesday (Pinellas Hope accepts new residents once weekly – Tuesday – this day is called “intake”). In their words, it was God’s will that that got them to Pinellas Hope. They feel that Pinellas Hope is the best place, where you are surrounded by people and yet have a sense of privacy as well.
Their story at Pinellas Hope is coming to end as on December 10th William and Pequena are headed to Philadelphia. They are headed back to family. They have an apartment waiting for them and the best part is William will be going back to the career which he loves, cooking. He has a job waiting for him at a couples’ shelter in Philadelphia where he will be cooking for their residents. We pray for their success in their new state and town!
Dakota’s story was initially featured during this year’s National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 10 – 18, 2018), as we sought to highlight client-resident stories to help people understand what homelessness looks like and how bright futures are possible for people after leaving Pinellas Hope.
Dakota is a 21-year old who came to Pinellas Hope in September. Dakota is originally from Florida but moved with his mom and siblings to Connecticut. In Connecticut he started using marijuana. His school work and general behavior suffered and after a while his mom kicked him out of the house. He soon dropped out of school altogether and returned to Florida on his own.
With no school and no family, his life continued to spiral downward. Dakota found himself in a relationship that would not last, he became depressed and turned to cocaine and alcohol. After totaling his car, he didn’t have a way to get to work. Soon, he was out of money and eventually evicted from his apartment. The streets became his home. Eventually he found his way to Safe Harbor, a shelter service for homeless people involved in the Pinellas County criminal justice system. He learned about Pinellas Hope and soon made his way here with us. Dakota is now drug free and planning on leaving Pinellas Hope to attend Job Corp., a program that trains students in a trade.
We wish him luck and cannot wait to see what his future holds!!
Cathy gave us a first-person testimonial in an attempt to share what Pinellas Hope has meant to her:
“Hi, my name is Cathy. I live in Pinellas Hope. I arrived on July 2nd. It’s a wonderful place. I became homeless two years ago. I actually lived on the street for a year and was in and out of different shelters, but there’s nothing like Pinellas Hope. The people there are nice. They want to help you. They give you a great big 6-man tent to sleep in. If you are disabled, a cottage. I am disabled so I got put in a cottage. I can leave now because I got approved for my social security disability and it’s making me able to build my life back up again. I never expected at my age to be living on basically on concrete on the street for a year. People don’t realize that I’m not a drug addict, I don’t drink. People become homeless because they don’t have the resources to have a place to live. If you have no money, you can’t live anywhere. You have to pay bills. If you don’t have money, you can’t do it. This place is great. They offer you everything. They have a computer room, a classroom, a library, washers, dryers, bathrooms, showers. And anything you need here from personal products to reading glasses you can get and it’s all free and it’s all through donations. If it wasn’t for Pinellas Hope, I’d still be on the street.”
Epilogue: Cathy, with the assistance of her case manager, qualified for Social Security Disability Income and moved into her very own Pinellas Hope Apartment on November 12th! These apartments are subsidized, permanent, supportive efficiency units reserved for qualifying individuals with very low income.
When Soto Morales arrived at Pinellas Hope in July 2017, he was suffering from extreme medical problems and was homeless. He was afraid of his illness and having no place to stay, but he was also ready for a second chance at a new life.
In the beginning of his journey with Catholic Charities he struggled to find hope but soon understood that he was surrounded by people that care and wanted to help. Soto became homeless due to his drug addiction and the serious repercussions his drug use caused him physically. His drug use caused a rare and debilitating neurological disorder and now years later he continues to experience severe spasms throughout his body despite no longer using drugs. The spasms have prevented Soto from working or pursuing any of his passions. As a result, he applied for Social Security Disability and with the assistance of pro bono representation by an attorney with a law firm which provides in-kind legal service to Pinellas Hope, he won his case.
Soto, like other Pinellas Hope residents, was able to qualify for housing in the Pinellas Hope Apartments (subsidized, permanent, supportive efficiency units behind the homeless shelter) and continues to live here. He feels he has the support and stability to move forward with his life and hopes that in the future he will be able to share his story with many and help motivate others to value sobriety and realize how full life can be when you seek the help you need.