For Cedric*, experiencing homelessness was a way of life. Twenty plus years of life, in fact. In and out of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, our team patiently worked to cultivate and grow a trusted relationship with Cedric. Struggling with severe mental illness, Cedric needed significant support. That support started with us and ultimately found him a home with Moore Place, permanent supportive housing created by Urban Ministry Center.
The notion of “it takes a village” certainly held true for helping Cedric. His two decades of homelessness took him to two states, several shelters, and eventually, the streets. The “village of help” took some unconventional turns including candy, cigarettes, bagged lunches, microwavable ravioli and finally – relationships. In the end, it was these relationships that helped Cedric become housed.
Urban Ministry Center’s Moore Place exists for the “Cedrics” of the world, those struggling with significant disabling conditions who can succeed with independent living while surrounded by a community of support. Cedric began developing relationships at Men’s Shelter of Charlotte where we provided supportive staff, basic needs, and kept him off the streets. The simple tasks of obtaining his photo ID and social security card, both of which are necessary for housing, seemed monumental tasks with Cedric’s struggles. Our staff’s persistence, patience, and investments in candy and ravioli paid off – twenty years of homelessness were ended when Cedric signed his lease last month.
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte – providing safe emergency shelter while working to end homelessness for each man!
(*) Note, Cedric is not this guest’s real name. Name is protected to maintain confidentiality.
“I’m trying to find a new way to live. I’m trying to find my purpose.”
After his mother lost her battle with cancer, Herman decided that staying in Durham was too painful and needed a fresh start. He moved to Charlotte and gained employment quickly. But after his housing plan didn’t work out and with nowhere to go, he turned to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte for help.
While Herman’s basic needs were met, he also took advantage of the employment services at the shelter. He frequently visited our Housing and Employment Resource Center. There, Herman found skilled volunteers and our Employment VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) worker, Dawn, who helped improve his basic computer skills, build a resume, set up an email account, navigate online job applications, and much more. Herman was also provided transportation to Goodwill’s Opportunity Campus (one of our key partnering organizations) to take advantage of workshops, budgeting classes and other vital employment resources.
Though Herman was employed, he found that with his newly acquired skills and certifications, many more opportunities became available. As a result, Herman landed a higher paying job as a cook with one of our employment partners, B.Good. Even better is that Herman is now with an employer where he can pursue a career in the culinary industry.
With new found stability, Herman moved into an apartment in early January with a roommate, also a former guest of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. Today, Herman continues “finding a new way to live” and is on the right track.
“Enough is enough,” has been Peter’s motto as he transformed his life through the shelter.
Peter came to Charlotte for a fresh start after serving time in the criminal justice system in New York. He turned to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte when staying with his sister and niece was no longer feasible.
Peter’s housing and employment barriers were high but he was determined to “take advantage of all the shelter services.” First, Peter accessed a nurse on-site and was referred to a doctor who could perform a necessary back surgery needed to repair a decades-long injury. After recovering, things started looking up. He started working at a local bakery and coffee shop after seeing a job posting on our Job Opportunities Board and met with a Housing Specialist to help him navigate housing options.
Peter and a roommate, whom he met at the shelter, are now moving into housing. Excited to move in to his apartment, Peter exclaims that his new housing “gives me the foundation I was looking for!”
“Once I finish barber school and get started, I want to come back to the shelter to help.” Things have finally turned around for former guest Randy who is now housed and excited for his new life ahead of him. Last year, Randy’s life was a lot different. His family relationships were lost and he was experiencing homelessness for the third time in a few years.
Randy’s first experience with homelessness occurred early in his adulthood. He lived with his mom until their relationship became strained. Randy left her house to live on his own, but with very little resources and no support network, Randy found himself experiencing homelessness and turned to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.
“I’ve been homeless a few times,” says Randy as he recalls living on the streets as well as in our shelter. We learned that during his experiences, Randy struggled with mental illness.
His last visit to our shelter resulted in Randy connecting with needed resources and obtaining income through disability, as his mental illness was formally diagnosed. Through our rapid re-housing program, one of our Housing Specialists helped him move into housing, which included a year’s rental subsidy to help him gain better financial footing.
One of our Housing Retention Specialists continues to follow-up with Randy to monitor and encourage progress. He has since enrolled in barber school and looks to supplement his income once he’s graduated. Because of Randy’s commitment, he was chosen for a small scholarship, which provides dollars to use toward his education. The dollars were made available from a generous donor whose late husband was on the board of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.
Since being housed, Randy has re-united with his mother, who recently fell ill, and repaired relationships with family members. He now plans to move in with his sister as he continues rebuilding his life, caring for his mother, and pursuing his dream of becoming a barber.
“People in the shelter have a lot of potential and goals! They just need help to overcome barriers.” One former guest shares this sentiment before leaving our shelter to return to Cameroon to be reunited with family after his mother’s tragic passing.
After being laid off as a loan officer, this guest lost his housing and turned to the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. With help from volunteers from the volunteer F3 initiative, he had the support to return home.
Through the weekly workouts, this former guest shared with F3 volunteers that he immigrated to the United States and settled in Washington D.C. With a Master’s Degree in Economic Development and a Bachelor’s in Economics, his future looked bright. After being laid off, he traveled to Charlotte in search of opportunity, only to find himself in need of emergency shelter.
While at the shelter, he chose to take advantage of a new volunteer group – F3, which stands for Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith. This dedicated group of volunteers arrives at our shelter every Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. to recruit guests to participate in the weekly workout. While there is one individual who leads the workout, everyone works out together; as equals. This former guest became a regular and found the comradery of great support in his journey to pull his life together.
Unexpectedly, he received word from his family in Cameroon that his mother died. This passing spurred his desire to move home. While he was beginning to make progress in Charlotte, he felt an intrinsic need to be with family. Upon hearing the news, his newfound F3 friends pulled together to ensure he had the funds to return home.
On his last workout, he shared a few words of wisdom. One of his most poignant stories described an elephant in Cameroon that was unable to lift itself out of a water reservoir, until another elephant gave a push and made the difference. He shared this story as an illustration of how the shelter and F3 helps men in our community.
Hear about the impact directly from this former guest!