by Keith Arivnwine
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he lifestyle of homelessness is a decision that I made. When I was homeless, I used a shopping basket to carry my belongings and to recycle. I met many homeless people at the recycling center. It was productive to collect cans.
Unfortunately, I saw many people using the money for wants, not basic needs. Also, I became accustomed to seeing stuff trashed and dumped on the street. Walking past disgusting things everyday became acceptable. I accepted the misery because I felt miserable.
When I was in jail, I felt a desire for change from within. Once I felt the touch, I started making changes in my life. I began to see my homeless lifestyle for what it was. I realized I needed help to be retrained.
I applied for General Assistance and used the funds to buy a cell phone and bus pass, which helped me to be successful in my new venture. Having good free meals and contact with people with positive attitudes in the community also helped.
I learned about St. Mary’s shelter when in jail and entered the shelter in December 2012. I attended the shelter’s wellness classes and did things I didn’t normally do. I took the classes seriously and looked at things for what they really are. The classes offered important training to maintain a proper lifestyle when housed. At St. Mary’s I was around positive people who also wanted to do something different with their lives.
St. Mary’s is across from a park where homeless people gather. When I’d see people in the park, I was reminded of my past, and felt strength to stay with my desire for change.
After engaging in St. Mary’s programs for four months, I had a key in my hand for my own studio apartment. Every time I turn the key to open the door to my apartment I feel appreciation and accomplishment.
I’m now living where God wants me to be. I feel good about myself and fit into the lifestyle of being housed and mentally stable. I keep in mind that everything starts from within. I will have obstacles in my life. I now know that when an unexpected situation happens, I can deal with it.
Life is so good and gets better and better every day. People who are homeless now come to me and ask, “How did you do it? How can I do the same?”