Kenneth Shares His Story Of “Help & Hope” From The Open Shelter

Kenneth has been a guest of ours for many years.  He is one of nearly 50 guests we assist through our Payeeship Program.  Kenneth sat down with us to talk about how The Open Shelter has helped him.

“I grew up in a foster home.  I was one of seven children.  There was a little bit of abuse.  It was trying at times.  There were people living with us that sexually abused us.  I didn’t get along with my mom and dad that well.  I spent a lot of time by myself.”

“My father was a Deputy Sheriff and my mom was a stay-at-home mother.  We lived in a middle class neighborhood on the south side of Columbus.  We were all foster children.  I didn’t meet my real mother until I was 16.”

“I left my foster home to live with my real mother when I was 17.   She had some disabilities and was going through some mental health issues.  She was in a nursing home for most of the time I knew her.  She did live with my brother for a time, so I went to live with them.”

“When I was 18, I was accused of robbery.  I went to jail for a little over six months.  I was released into my foster father’s custody, so I went back with him.   It was found out that I didn’t do it, so they dismissed all the charges.”

“I eventually joined the Army.  I spent three and a half years in the service.  It was a learning experience.  I completed Basic Training and got a $2500 bonus.  I got in a lot of scrapes.  I got in a lot of trouble.  They took my bonus back and kicked me out six months early.  I got a DUI while I was with the Army.”

“I was stationed in Alabama and in Germany during my time in the Army.  Germany was a beautiful place.  It was really beautiful.  If I had known then what I know now, it would have been a lot better for me.  I went nightclubbing most of the time.” 

“I went back to live with my foster dad when I left the Army.  I found a couple of jobs, but didn’t keep any of them for more than six months.  I worked at General Motors, worked as a security guard.”

“I found myself homeless in 1985.  I was renting a house from a lady.  I wasn’t able to pay the bills after a period of time.  I eventually ended up at Friends of The Homeless.  I had an experience there where I got to enjoy Christmas for the very first time.  Even though I had got gifts as a child, it was there where I got to realize how beautiful Christmas really was.”

“I was at Friends of The Homeless for about three months.  I got into an altercation with someone.  They put me out.  I ended up on the streets of Downtown Columbus, living in empty buildings.  I would grab a bag from White Castle and go to restaurants & bars grabbing all the free popcorn and peanuts I could.  I would eat that.  Burger King used to be Downtown.  They would throw out food.  I would eat out of their garbage.  I would get jumped on a regular basis.  I got my ribs broke, head punched and had to sleep outside.”

“I eventually found out about The Open Shelter.  That was probably around 1987.  I got a mat at The Open Shelter.  I probably stayed there for about six months.  It really was an experience.  The churches that came by and fed, donated clothing.  I was indulging in drugs back then.  So it was off and on if I missed my bed call.”

“I have battles with drugs & alcohol.  I was using on a daily basis.  I was living in laundry rooms & empty buildings.  I was using crack cocaine & alcohol.  I have had treatment on a number of occasions.  Currently, I am going through a process.  I have been clean and sober for about six months.  I am going to two groups a week.  I am also get a shot for paranoid schizophrenia.”

“The Open Shelter has been my payee off and on for at least 15-16 years.  I have been housed currently for about nine months.  The Open Shelter has helped me maintain my living status by being my payee on a number of occasions because of my drug abuse.  It would have been impossible for me to maintain my housing.  Clean clothes, food, paying my rent, paying my utilities.  I was able to do the necessary things I needed to do because you were my payee.”

“My most recent struggle is on a daily basis.  It’s a process.  There are occasions where I think it would be nice to have a drink.  But if I have a couple of drinks, my guard goes down.  I go right back to the crack.  They work hand in hand.  I can’t do either one.”

“I really appreciate the fact The Open Shelter was there for me.  I was homeless, dirty, nothing to eat, nowhere to go.  They were there to help feed me, give me clothes and just be there for me.  It was a difficult time for me.  It means a lot to me.  I can still come get meals.  If it wasn’t for them, who knows what may have happened to me?”

YOUR support provides “Help & Hope” to guests like Kenneth.
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