Kenneth, a 10-year Army veteran, was living a clean life in Houston when Hurricane Harvey struck in late August. The storm washed away all his possessions but couldn’t break his spirit. So many things the average person takes for granted, such as a warm bed to sleep in and a kitchen to cook delicious meals in, seemed impossible as the storm clouds rolled in.

“I never went through anything clean and sober like what I went through during Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “The hurricane took away everything. It was just the Grace of God that led me back here.”

Kenneth came back to New Orleans hoping to reconnect with his church and family, but his family was struggling too. So one day as he was lying down at a local homeless shelter, an announcement came over the intercom that led him to Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana and our Supportive Services for Veterans Families program. That was the turning point.

Case manager Patrice Hopkins said Kenneth is thriving again, thanks to his desire to overcome this challenge while remaining sober. It’s incredible what helping someone meet their basic needs can do, she said.

Thanks to your support, Kenneth currently resides at one of Volunteers of America’s temporary housing facilities with hopes to move to a permanent home of his own. His family stepped up to help him furnish his single room with furniture while Volunteers of America provided him with pots and pans to whip up those delicious meals he was missing.

He’s even reconnected with his church “home” and does volunteer work in the community.

“It was like the Devil wanted me to go back and smoke crack,” Kenneth said. “I knew I could hustle on the streets, but I didn’t want to do that. I knew that life has got to be better than that.” Because of the generosity of our donors, Volunteers of America is there with a warm bed and supportive services to help Kenneth have hope and opportunities.

He’s even giving back to those in need. He worked with his church—Israelite Baptist Church—making boxed lunches headed to Houston, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to help those affected by the same storm he’s been able to overcome. He’s also started preaching on Sundays.

The 56-year-old Baton Rouge native feels like the sun is shining again, and he wants to share that feeling. He plans to continue volunteering and hopes to return to college to obtain his bachelor’s degree. Eventually, he would like to do outreach in the criminal justice system to help those incarcerated improve their lives.

Kenneth, who has been clean for nearly two years, said it has been a “whirlwind” over the past three months since the hurricane, but he looks forward to a much brighter future.

“You’d think that I’m a lottery winner,” he said. “It’s just a joy on the inside. That’s what is so powerful. I’ve got a lot of joy in my heart, and if it wasn’t for Volunteers of America, I wouldn’t have been able to stay on this positive path.”

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