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“If not for the program, we would be on the street, or dead.”
Seven nights a week Eduardo goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and comes home to a small rented room. He shares a bathroom and a kitchen with others in the building. His housing may not be luxurious, but it is a world away from his life before he met Juan, his caseworker from Elders Living at Home Program (ELAHP).
Eduardo had been sleeping on the streets for four years. He had a serious problem with alcohol, and describes himself at that time as “destroyed.” One day a friend on the streets told him to go to a shelter. Eduardo was at such a low point in his life that he had never realized that there was help available for the homeless. He didn't know anything about shelters, and didn't know what to expect at Pine Street, but he decided that it was time to try to improve his life.
At Pine Street, Eduardo connected with Juan and became an ELAHP client. They provided him with food, clothing, and help getting to medical appointments. They helped him apply for the room where he now lives. However, it wasn't these material things, but the attitude of his caseworker that gave Eduardo hope that life could change for him. Eduardo says that the kindness of the ELAHP staff gave him the strength to change his own self-destructive behavior. He got sober and started attending alcoholics anonymous meetings every day. He continues to work with the nurse at ELAHP on improving his diet to better control his diabetes.
Eduardo loves going to ELAHP’s annual Christmas party. Year after year, he celebrates with many of the same people he used to see on the streets and in the shelter. They are happy and living in their own apartments now. Eduardo is amazed by how far he and his friends have come: “Thanks to help from the government, and people that give to the program, so many of us are happy. If not for the program, we would be on the street, or dead,” he says.
Eduardo knows there are people like him sleeping on the street tonight, too afraid to seek help. Eduardo has a message for them: “I hope someone hears this story and comes to the program, that they stop being afraid. This program took me out of misery, they gave me food, they gave me love, they cared for me. That warmth is what we need, even more than a place to stay. This program gave me that.”