Jay was a young 20-something kid who aged out of the foster care system and had some major medical issues (transplant) and also untreated mental illnesses. When he lost his job and housing almost a year before we opened the Beacon, there was no family to put him up while he got his life back together. He seemed unmotivated and was very argumentative… but was also pretty darn smart.
The husband of one of our volunteers, who is a skilled cabinet maker, offered him some work helping him build a kitchen island on a side job. He taught him how to use the tools and follow safety procedures, and gave him a lot of encouragement and positive feedback. Jay was so proud of his work and talked about it to a couple who often volunteered in the laundry together at the Beacon. They encouraged him to look into taking the test to become a Journeyman and thought that he would continue to blossom with an apprenticeship. He took the test and passed and then applied for and got a job with a ceiling tile company. But, soon after, he realized that part of working construction jobs is that he had to be able to travel to the work site, and most sites were not on the bus line. He couldn’t make it to the job sites and lost his first job. He got discouraged and felt suicidal and staff at the Beacon got him into the hospital and then into Solstice House for respite and the Tellarian CARE center to stay. And we got him back on his meds.
He got another job with a big construction company and paid a co-worker to drive him for a few weeks…and after he had a few paychecks, he bought a car at the “one dime down” dealership and was able to drive himself. He left Tellarian’s CARE center and started sleeping in his car. Then a co-worker offered to rent him a room in his apartment.
He stopped by the Beacon to check in with some of us who helped him. We all told him how proud we were of him. He thanked us and we haven’t seen him again since that day… and we consider that a HUGE success. It wasn’t smooth, it wasn’t pretty… and it took a lot of people… and may still take some nudges and encouragement… but it is a great outcome from someone who just really needed some guidance and encouragement and a few tough discussions laced with compassion.
An Update: As John Adams, our director of the Beacon, walked by the construction crew working at a nearby building, he looked over at the workers and there was Jay – construction helmet and coveralls on – climbing down from a truck…he gave him a smile and a nod, and it was returned…. John, later told me that he practically started crying on the spot to see him doing so well.