Today Allen is working full time at The Ground Round as a food shift supervisor, as well as The Ruby Owl. He is con dent. He knows he’s good at what he does. Although working two jobs, he’s still utilizing the shelter. He is working to clean up financial situations, personal situations, and his physical health. He is on track to get his driver’s license for the first time in his life. One of his goals after paying off his debts was to open a bank account with $1,000. He just accomplished this goal recently.
Breaking the Cycle: ADVOCAP and Day by Day Warming Shelter
Allen, 39, never knew what a stable life looked like. As a child, he was abandoned, abused, in and out of foster care, and could not adjust to adoption. As a young adult, he was in and out of jail and prison. He is from nowhere, and everywhere. Born in Germany, he grew up in the south, and before landing in Oshkosh lived in Duluth. He never planned for a future, because he never knew one was possible.
During his last incarceration in Oshkosh, sober for the first time in a long time, with his eyes wide opened, he knew he needed to turn things around and change his life, essentially starting over. One skill his turbulent life gave him is the ability to disconnect, to put the past behind him and move on. It is this skill that allows Allen to keep focused on what he does want; a better life.
Once out of jail, he was resourceful. Having been homeless before, he knew if he showed up in the right place there would be help available. The difference this time is Allen tapped the help he needed to make permanent changes. He credits The Day by Day Warming Shelter and ADVOCAP for giving him the help he needed to make those changes.
The one gift he believes he does have is intelligence, plus one skill. He is an accomplished chef. He states there are many places he feels uncomfortable in his life. But the one place he feels comfortable is in a kitchen. He loves the atmosphere, the environment, and the pace.
Allen felt he needed an incubation period to get his life in order and the services at The Shelter and ADVOCAP have given him this. The Shelter is his calm in the storm. He knows he needs a plan by April 15 when the shelter will close for the season.
He wishes people knew how tough being homeless is—the mental drain. “You don’t have a home. You have no security. You live out of blue bins. It’s fatiguing and draining. It is a negative psychological thing.”
The key to making a change for him has been the support and understanding he gets from the case manager funded by the United Way. This has given him time to reflect on what are the next steps for him. He’s three months into his new life. From his perspective, what the program staff REALLY do, besides putting a roof over his head and giving him food, is relate to him as a person. He reflects, “They want to see you do better and move forward. They offer support without pressure.”
The Day by Day Warming Shelter and ADVOCAP are supported by Oshkosh Area United Way. Helping Allen achieve self-sufficiency and break his cycle of homelessness is the difference YOU are making with your donation to United Way.