“I was homeless for over 25 years. My wife died and that broke my heart. I started using hardcore drugs—everything under the sun. When I didn’t have money, I made my own stuff. Sometimes, I’d just used bleach. I had to get food from the garbage and it [the weather] would be cold one night and hot the next. I was miserable.” -Anthony*
Now, when you look at him, you see a man that is full of determination. He is someone who spends all day in the sun and still comes to class. Anthony does landscaping. He enjoys flipping through pictures of the yards where he pours his heart and sweat into each day. On the side, he details cars. He has a knack for making something serene out of a mess.
As Anthony shared, the death of his wife sent his life spiraling out of control. Before he knew it, he was on the streets of a major city. He tried to stay high to numb the pain, but his days grew so unbearable that he even attempted to overdose. Anthony might still be there if an old friend had not called to say he was coming to get him. Anthony’s friend took him out of the city that had become so toxic and allowed him to live in his home, amongst his family. Anthony still resides with this family and is forever grateful for their support. They changed his life and helped him find a healthier path. Today, Anthony refuses to go anywhere near drug-related substances and advocates a clean lifestyle. He pleads, “Don’t do any of it. It just messes you up.”
Anthony’s life has calmed down and he finally has time to, as he says, “better himself.” For him, literacy is a huge part of that process. Growing up, he hated speaking and reading aloud because other students made fun of his speech impediment. Eventually, Anthony’s social isolation caused him to loathe school altogether.
“I just gave up after a while,” he said.
Now, Anthony often volunteers to read in class. He appreciates the support and understanding of his empathetic classmates. Anthony is also excited about becoming a better writer. He wants to make advertisements for his business.
He ended his interview with this:
“It takes me some time, but I am getting better. I write sentences. I read more stuff. It’s great.”
*Names and identifying details have been changed for the protection of the individual