Housing is a blessing, especially for the sick

Randy had it rough. Battling depression, he began drinking at a young age and it eventually controlled his life.

He was 51 when he was placed in housing with the help of St. John Center and case manager Sarah Buckler. It was his first home in 20 years.

“Having my own place gives me a very, very peaceful feeling both spiritually and mentally. It gives me peace of mind because I can escape into my own world if I need to,” said Randy in an article published in the September 2011 issue of Daylight, the Center’s printed newsletter.

After getting his apartment, Randy never found himself homeless again. Tiny Herron became Randy’s case manager in April; just about the time he learned that he had a terminal disease. Unfortunately she found him unconscious on the floor of his apartment during a home visit.

Randy was rushed to the hospital where he died August 6 surrounded by family and friends. Tiny, SJC executive director Maria Price and Sarah Buckler (Randy’s first case manager at SJC) all visited him during his hospital stays.

“I was very glad Randy had a home when he died. He was my brother and I am happy he got the support he needed to get housing. It gave me peace that he had a place of his own,” said Rodney, Randy’s twin brother. “Thank God for you all. You provide a great service. Bless you for your help.”

According to Tiny and Rodney, Randy was very grateful for the St. John Center housing program. “He told me he thought St. John Center was a very friendly and helpful place with lots of resources. He said the staff worked with him to improve his life,” said Rodney.

“Housing allowed Randy to rekindle his relationship with his children. It helped him maintain sobriety,” added Tiny.

Randy didn’t like anyone to know he was homeless. “I was always embarrassed by being homeless. I hid it from my family. I kept my homelessness a secret from my brother and my daughters. The pain, shame and guilt of being homeless made me isolate myself,” admitted Randy, who after housing became much more involved in the lives of his children and grandchildren.

Randy sought to repay St. John Center by going outside his comfort zone to speak to others about his personal struggle with homelessness in the hope that his story might keep someone from ending up on the streets. He spoke to a large crowd during St. John Center’s 25th anniversary celebration.

“Talking about it helps me and it helps them,” said Randy. “I absolutely believe my story has touched some of the teenagers I’ve talked to.”

No doubt about it Randy. And your beautiful spirit lives on.