Mel had been homeless for almost 25 years, often sleeping in an arroyo and keeping to himself. Ten years ago, Mel came to the HopeWorks Day Shelter to access services. Eventually, he started volunteering to help with daily cleaning tasks and took advantage of the $10 daily stipend. Back then, Mel used his daily cash to support his addiction to alcohol. In his words, “drinking is the only thing that gets me through the long nights.” Over the years, Mel made connections with the staff at the Shelter and started to trust them. In May 2015, Mel finally decided that he wanted to get some help to understand why he drank and see if he could possibly get into a housing program. Mel was accepted into the Comprehensive Recovery Program (CRT). Although he knew his alcoholism was contributing to his lifestyle, Mel was not ready to quit drinking or commit to treatment. Despite his reluctance, his Community Support Workers kept working with him and encouraging him. By August 2015, Mel had been accepted into Shelter Plus Care housing program and moved into his first apartment in almost three decades. After he was housed, Mel would come in and meet with his Community Support Worker on a weekly basis but was hesitant to work on anything except maintaining his housing. In September 2015, Mel was out panhandling and was approached by the There’s A Better Way van. He decided that he would accept the offer to work for a day and got on the van. That one day of “actual work,” as he calls it, changed Mel’s perspective about life. After earning his $45 that day, he developed a desire to obtain employment and do more. Mel said he wanted more out of his life. Mel has been sober for over 8 months and stays focused on getting through one day at a time.
Since utilizing the There’s A Better Way van, his view on employment has changed and he has been actively seeking permanent, full-time employment. When the opportunity arose for him to be an on-call/back-up Street Sweeper during the summer of 2016, Mel immediately accepted the position. He continues to seek permanent employment, but is now working as a Street Sweeper as often as he can. Now that he has income that can be calculated for his rental portion, Mel is actually looking forward to being able to make his first rent payment on his apartment. It’s amazing what a little self-confidence and motivation can do to turn a life around!