A full stomach, a better life
As Father Joe likes to say, "It all starts with a meal."
Homelessness is never easy. For Stevie it meant sleeping in parks and being ever-unsure of where his next meal would come from. When a friend told him that St. Vincent de Paul Village offered free meals, he made a bee-line to the facility. "I was so hungry," he says. "I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten."
If he hadn't come to the Village for that meal, Stevie never would have learned about all the other services St. Vincent's has to offer. "I had heard about the Village – and seen Father Joe on TV asking for donations – for nearly 30 years," he says. "But I never made the connection between donations and the services the Village provides." After he finished his lunch, Stevie completed the Housing Assessment interview and got on the waiting list for transitional housing.
Every other day thereafter, Stevie would walk to the Village. "Not only did I need the hot, life-sustaining meal," he says, "but I also needed to be in an environment that made me feel hopeful about my future." He was anxious about his lot in life, but the spirit of the Village kept him optimistic. "Having a sense of hope helped me emotionally and mentally."
Once in transitional housing, Stevie was able to take advantage of all the life-changing programs the Village offers. He attended classes like Challenge to Change and Healthy Relationships that inspired him to change his life. He had a daily chore and supervised the laundry at the nearby Day Center for the homeless. He received primary medical care, mental health counseling and medication for his depression, high blood pressure and cholesterol. At the dental clinic he was given a full set of dentures to make him more employable. "Now I can really enjoy meals!" he says. And in the Career & Education Center, he participated in the Career Track program where he attended the 64-hour Job Seeking Skills Seminar and was coached on interview skills, job expectations, appropriate work attire and resume development. "They even helped me secure an internship in the real estate industry."
Stevie now lives in his own apartment in downtown San Diego. He is working in property management after being hired at the end of his internship and is grateful to be living a better life. "The Village has everything to help a person as long as they help themselves," he says. "I'm living proof that the meal program has an impact far beyond filling an aching stomach – it really saves lives."
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