Raymond’s story originally appeared in our 2012 Annual Report.
Stability can mean the difference between success and failure. For Raymond, a life-altering injury, job loss and depression consumed every bit of consistency in his life. The child of a broken home, Raymond was routinely left on his own at the young age of 14. As an adult, he experienced a stable life, working with his father in auto parts and then estates for nearly 20 years. However, a tragic accident changed everything. Raymond fell 20 feet which shattered several bones in his foot. This injury has plagued him for the last ten years since it’s impossible for him to walk an extended distance and it’s stifled his ability to find consistent employment. This combination led to Raymond’s homelessness and deepening depression.
Over the next ten years, Raymond lost his apartment and his job and began couch-surfing from friend’s house to friend’s house. He was completely homeless five times, lost 35 lbs. from malnutrition and lacked medical prescriptions (to reduce his depression and acid reflux) and eye glasses.
When asked about his life’s direction if he hadn’t received help, Raymond hauntingly responded, “I don’t know, I’d probably be dead. There were some mental health issues. When I came here (Schuyler Outreach), it was the first time I really tried to remedy the situation.”
That first visit to Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach came in April 2011 on a referral from Schuyler Health Check, a local free clinic. Raymond had come to a crossroads. Homeless and depressed, Catholic Charities assisted Raymond with food from the pantry, prescriptions, food stamp enrollment, and together with DSS, temporary housing. The process did not stop there.
Raymond applied for disability and Section 8 Housing. Then he began his search for housing. His hard work and the efforts of Catholic Charities’ case manager, Nancy Brand, paid off when Raymond moved into his new apartment in September 2012. Utilizing Catholic Charities’ Supported Housing Program funds, Raymond continues to receive case management support while living independently in the community.
When asked, “how do you feel about your life now? What feels different?” Raymond paused then stated, “Stable.” This was followed by laughter, “for once… I don’t have to worry.” It was then asked, “how long has it been since you felt that way?” Raymond responded, “Twenty years…really.”
It is amazing what kindness and stability can inspire in someone. Raymond has come a long way from homelessness. He is still a scavenger – always on the lookout for abandoned treasures – a gift he utilized in furnishing his whole apartment. But he is also much more responsible, opening and collecting his bills in the briefcase he found. He brings his briefcase to every meeting with Ms. Brand to discuss his budgeting. There is also something else different about Raymond, a gleam of hope in his eyes. For every person in the deep grips and despair of poverty, Catholic Charities is their partner in the fight. Because there is always hope.