John, an ordained minister and Army veteran, found himself homeless through a series of mental health breakdowns. “I was able to get connected to psychiatric care through the VA, and finally after many years of never knowing what was wrong with me, I was diagnosed with bipolar. It feels to finally know what was wrong my thinking and to have the feeling of a clear head. I just got the call that I start a job on Thursday. I am starting over and I have a lot of hope that things are going to continue to work out.”
“I feel like my family is here. If I get upset, I can express myself. I have a lot of appreciation for this place. I feel safe. The staff gives me support and would give me the shirts off their backs. At night on the streets, you get robbed. It’s really sad because we’re homeless and we don’t have anything. After you’ve been on the streets for a couple of days, you come here, get warm, take a shower and it’s just enough to keep you going for a few days. I like to come here to get warmed up and right now I am starving because a raccoon tipped over my soup that I made last night. I value the food, being able to clean myself, and the staff. If I have an issue, I can go in and talk to someone. I can’t just name one thing that I am thankful for about The Beacon. If I am feeling down the dumps on a day, I can go to staff and talk to them. They bring me out of that place. ”
Robert first came to Madison 5 years ago. He has been homeless off and on for maybe a year. He comes to The Beacon everyday to mostly sleep or try to while the shelter is running during the day. Robert works 3rd shift at a lab as a currier delivering food samples. He knows this is temporary in his life and that is what gets him by most days. A Chicago native, he went to Northwestern University- for a double major in history and linguistics. Unfortunately, during his junior year, he wasn’t able to finish school because his mother had several strokes. His favorite book to read is “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. “The Beacon was great at connecting me with resources that I needed like Foodshare. I try not to take much because it’s just me and I don’t want to take from families.” “I feel safe here because I can be warm and off the streets.”
Ray was born in Brazil, he came to Madison 12 years ago. He is a veteran in the Army who fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. He served as a Combat Medic and was very passionate about his job and really enjoyed it. Ray found himself homeless in February after he found out his girlfriend had spent the last of their money on alcohol again. He has never been homeless before. “The first few nights on the street were very scary. I have been to war and this wasn’t like war. I used some of my military skills to stay safe. Someone told me about The Beacon and I have been coming here every day since.” Ray’s mother lives in Madison and he sees her 3 days a week. She does not know that he is homeless because she is frail with her health and he is afraid it would add unnecessary stress to her.
“The Beacon being open during the day allowed me the opportunity to job search and get the job that I currently have. Provided me a shower and clean clothing before my job interview. ” Ray is currently working as a general manager at a local restaurant and staying at the Warner Park shelter in the evenings. He uses The Beacon transportation to get from the night shelter to the day shelter. “The homeless community has a lot of really good people. I have met a lot of veterans. They took me in and treated me like family. You have to be determined to get off the streets. There’s going to be someone that will hire you. You might not like the job or want to do the job, but if your main goal is employment, you will set that aside and know it is what you need and to take that opportunity.”
“My favorite part about The Beacon and being here is when we come in, The Beacon staff greet you with a smile and ask you how you are and it is genuine and sincere. I can be in the worst mood and not having the best luck, but I am accepted here. I am listened to here. The energy from the staff and volunteers is always pleasant. Some of the staff have been in our shoes before and knowing that they have been here too, gives me the motivation that I need. They went through the same situation, and I want to be like them. I want to be in a position to give back.”