Homeless for the Holidays: Meet John

November 19, 2018 - Serving Seniors

John is a familiar face around Serving Seniors. John was born and raised in Michigan and moved to California to get away from the cold. He has worked in everything from factories to driving trucks. He loves to be outside and in nature.

In 1996, John was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that put him out of work. Forced to live on social security alone, John struggled to make ends meet and, due to rising rents, eventually became homeless in his sixties.

John says the hardest part of living on the streets when you’re older is having to sit on the sidewalk to put on your shoes. He dreamed of one day having a bed to sit on.

For nearly a year, John visited our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center for breakfast and lunch, and even helped give back by volunteering around the center, without ever mentioning that he was living on the streets. It wasn’t until we asked John for his home address, and he gave us the address of a homeless shelter he sometimes stayed at, that we realized John was homeless.

Immediately, John was set up with a social service case manager and placed in our Transitional Housing Program. After a few months at the Sara Frances, John was placed in permanent housing at the age of 70.

He is grateful to have his own apartment with his own bed where he can put on his shoes. “Now I’ve gotten a great place,” he says, “the wait was well worth it. I feel so blessed.”

He still volunteers at Serving Seniors wherever needed, but most days you can find him helping out with breakfast in the dining room. John is more than a client; he is a beloved member of the Serving Seniors family.

This #GivingTuesday, Serving Seniors will be raising funds to provide housing, meals, and supportive services to homeless seniors like John. Our goal is to raise $8,000 in 24 hours—enough to provide a transitional home and wraparound services to four homeless seniors.

Please help us reach our goal by making a gift to Serving Seniors on #GivingTuesday, or give now at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/servingseniorsgt/.

Homeless for the Holidays: Meet Jerome

November 19, 2018 - Serving Seniors

Life took Jerome all over the United States—from state to state, from job to job—but he didn’t realize it would take him to the very edge of homelessness.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Jerome left his hometown in 1967 to get away from the riots. After living in New York City for three years, he moved to Las Vegas. Over the next 13 years, Jerome endured an onslaught of racial inequality which wore him down. After his marriage fell apart, Jerome was ready for a new beginning and decided to move even further west—to Los Angeles to work as a salesman in a Lincoln dealership. Later he moved on to San Diego, where he found a job on the docks, good friends, and a fresh start.

Jerome and was stable and happy. Then after 10 years at his job, Jerome was let go. He had macular degeneration, which was causing his eyesight to fail. He claimed unemployment but it wasn’t enough to sustain him. He lost his home and ended up sleeping on his friends’ couches, becoming homeless for the first time.

“Not everyone that’s homeless does drugs or has mental problems,” Jerome explains. “You just can’t judge people.”

Eventually Jerome found part-time work as a petitioner downtown. While on the job, he heard about Serving Seniors.

He came into the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center and met with our Supportive Services team. He was so inspired by the work we do, he started volunteering for the organization while waiting to be moved into transitional housing.

Eventually a temporary unit at the Sara Frances Hometel opened up, where Jerome lived for several months before he was offered yet another new beginning: a permanent home at Serving Seniors’ Potiker Family Senior Residence in East Village.

Jerome has enjoyed living at Potiker. He is grateful not just to have a safe and affordable place to call home, with rent that is far below what he would pay on his own, but also to have access to our on-site meals, social workers, nurses, and a community of friends and peers he can rely on.

“Serving Seniors is a great program that needs to be in more cities,” Jerome says.

Transitional housing is not the only service we provide for homeless and low-income seniors. Our comprehensive wraparound services include nutritious congregate and home-delivered meals, nurse case management, health education, lifelong learning and enrichment, social services, and permanent supportive housing. We work at nine sites across San Diego County, including our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center and our two affordable senior housing complexes. Each year, Serving Seniors provides life-saving programs to nearly 5,000 seniors in San Diego County.

Please join us on #GivingTuesday to help us raise $8,000 to provide housing, meals, and supportive services for more homeless seniors like Jerome, or make your gift now at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/servingseniorsgt/.

Homeless for the Holidays: Meet Jane

November 19, 2018 - Serving Seniors

Jane believed things would be better in California.

When she moved from Montreal to Modesto to start a new life, she thought she was leaving behind the life of fear and abuse she had experienced as a child. And for a while, she did.

With a degree in healthcare, she worked for Medic Alert where she conducted presentations at service clubs. She got married and had a son. Everything was looking up for Jane. Then the cycle of abuse restarted when her husband starting beating her and her child.

Fearing for their lives, Jane took her son and fled. They found refuge at a friend’s house in San Diego before finally moving into a home of their own. Suddenly finding herself a single mother, Jane worked two jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Eventually her son grew up and moved out, but things did not get easier for Jane. Although she never drank or did drugs, her health worsened as she got older and she had problems with her shoulder that made it hard for her to work. At age 62 she lost her job, and could no longer afford her rising San Diego rent and her son was not able to help.

Forced to sleep in her car, Jane feared for her safety every single night.

Being homeless gave her very little privacy, made her feel vulnerable and at risk of the physical violence she had experienced all her life. Jane was a loyal member of her local church, but when she went to them for help, they turned her away.

Jane had all but given up hope.

Then one day, as she was riding the bus, another passenger told her about Serving Seniors and the supportive services we offer for struggling seniors.

Jane visited Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, where she received a warm meal and was set up with a social worker.

Through our Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Seniors, Jane was placed in a temporary unit at the Sara Frances Hometel in downtown San Diego, where she lived rent-free while her social worker helped her save and obtain access to benefits.

“Serving Seniors gave me hope,” Jane says, “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

After months of hard work, Jane got the phone call she had been waiting for: it was her social worker letting her know that they had found her a unit in a permanent affordable housing complex. Jane was overjoyed—overjoyed to have not just a place to live, but a safe and comfortable home where she no longer had to fear for her safety.

“This program has made a world of difference in my life,” Jane says. “If it weren’t for Serving Seniors I would probably still be on the streets.”

Transitional housing is not the only service we provide for homeless and low-income seniors. Our comprehensive wraparound services include nutritious congregate and home-delivered meals, nurse case management, health education, lifelong learning and enrichment, social services, and permanent supportive housing. We work at nine sites across San Diego County, including our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center and our two affordable senior housing complexes. Each year, Serving Seniors provides life-saving programs to nearly 5,000 seniors in San Diego County.

Please join us on #GivingTuesday to help us raise $8,000 to provide housing, meals, and supportive services for more homeless seniors like Jane, or make your gift now at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/servingseniorsgt/.

 

 

 

Homeless for the Holidays: Meet Bruce

November 19, 2018 - Serving Seniors

Like so many of our seniors, Bruce thought he was healthy until a single visit to the doctor changed everything.

A Vietnam veteran originally from Cape Cod, Bruce was working as a building supervisor in a large, upscale building in downtown San Diego, making about $60,000 a year, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

While undergoing cancer treatment, Bruce also suffered a brain aneurysm and stroke.

His hospitalization and frequent surgeries drained his life savings, and within months of being released from the hospital, he suffered a heart attack.

The second time he was released from the hospital, it was onto the streets. He had been let go from his job, and no longer had a home to go back to. With no friends or family to ask for help, and too little money to afford a new apartment, Bruce became homeless at 67 years old.

Bruce lived on the streets for more than two years before finally, at the age of 70, he was introduced to Serving Seniors. After receiving a hot meal at our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, Bruce was set up with a Serving Seniors social worker. He had access to medical services, nutritious food and, most importantly, a compassionate team of people who truly cared for his well-being.

With his social worker’s help, Bruce was moved into emergency transitional housing where he resided for three months, while having access to assistance programs and other supportive services that have helped him regain his health and independence.

Bruce hopes to return to work soon. In the meantime, to pay back his positive experience, he has become an advocate for homeless support programs and affordable housing, volunteering on advocacy committees and garnering public support. He is deeply invested in new affordable housing projects and wants to see them “done right.” He visits each building site and talks to the people in charge, asking questions and sharing his experience as a facilities manager.

Bruce now lives in his own apartment and is completely self-sufficient.

“I’ve only ever wanted a clean, safe place to live, with a kitchen of my own,” Bruce says, with tears in his eyes. “I’ve come so far.”

Transitional housing is not the only service we provide for homeless and low-income seniors. Our comprehensive wraparound services include nutritious congregate and home-delivered meals, nurse case management, health education, lifelong learning and enrichment, social services, and permanent supportive housing. We work at nine sites across San Diego County, including our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center and our two affordable senior housing complexes. Each year, Serving Seniors provides life-saving programs to nearly 5,000 seniors in San Diego County.

Please join us on #GivingTuesday to help us raise $8,000 to provide housing, meals, and supportive services for more homeless seniors like Bruce, or make your gift now at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/servingseniorsgt.

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