Charles is someone you will never meet, yet you have changed his life for the better in so many ways. As a teenager, he was raised in an area where he saw violence, shootings and beatings every day. He was afraid and didn’t feel like he had a lot of choices. He chose to drink and do drugs to make himself numb and feel less afraid. These choices made him love himself less and less. When his mom died, he felt even more unloved and alone. He had nowhere to live, couldn’t hold a job because of his addictions and mental illness and lived most of his life on the street, homeless.
Fortunately, he met Ann, an outreach worker with Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans. Ann goes to meet our most vulnerable community members where they are. She met Charles at a homeless shelter. Within weeks, Charles started making different choices—choices that would change his life forever. A choice to love himself by getting into treatment for his mental illness and his alcohol and drug addictions. A choice to get sober and to continue working on his sobriety—one day at a time.
Now, if you were to see Charles, you wouldn’t find him on the street or in a homeless shelter. He lives in his own one-bedroom apartment because of Ann and our Permanent Supportive Housing Program. You’ll find him with a smile on his face and hope in his eyes. He even stands a little taller. That’s what you made happen with your help and support.
You and others like you in our community help us close our funding gap so we can provide needed resources like Ann to provide the care and support individuals like Charles need.
Billy Don worked off shore most of his life. Due to an alcohol problem and a troubled family life, he was never able to save much money. When his health became so bad that he could not work any longer Billy Don had to use what money he did have on bare necessities. When the last of his meager savings was gone Billy Don found himself homeless. During this period he lived in his truck. When the weather got really cold he sneaked into the AA clubhouse after meetings to keep warm. Billy Don had undergone years of turmoil with the oil company he worked for trying to collect his pension and he feared he would not live long enough to see this happen. After reaching rock bottom Billy Don was placed in the Shelter Plus Care Housing Program run by Volunteers of America. This program provides rental assistance and support for homeless people and for those struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues.
In just under a year Volunteers of America received a letter from Billy Don reporting on the happy changes that had taken place – he was finally able to collect his pension and now owns a small farm in the countryside!
James was living under a bridge when he first encountered Volunteers of America. He had been homeless for over 7 years as a result of an untreated mental illness. An outreach associate with Volunteers of America’s Mental Health Services assisted him with getting to a hospital for proper diagnosis and medication. The outreach associate provided James with a case manager who has been dedicated to encouraging James to persevere with his plans for recovery. James has been very committed to his treatment; He never misses a doctor’s visit, nor skips doses of his medication. James has been so successful rebuilding his life, he is now able to live independently. His case manager assisted him with finding his own house. James is ecstatic about living in his new place, which is located in the neighborhood where he grew up.
James will receive treatment for his mental illness for the rest of his life. He is very grateful that with the assistance of Volunteers of America he is able to find stability and make plans for his future.
Jeff is a native of Slidell who has recently reentered the work force after a year living in our Veterans Transitional Housing facility. This facility and program helps homeless veterans rebuild their lives by providing housing, job training, support services and more. Prior to coming to Volunteers of America Jeff served in the army as part of the military police. After leaving the army Jeff fell on some hard times and found himself homeless. After talking to a homeless coordinator in the New Orleans region he found out he could qualify for services from Volunteers of America’s Veterans Transitional Housing Program. At our Veterans facility Jeff was able to get the help he needed to get his life back on track. The support he received helped him to secure employment and live independently which is the main focus of the veterans program.
Jeff currently lives in St. Rose where he is employed as a security guard. He is working towards earning his teaching credential and one day hopes to teach middle-school history and social studies, or his favorite subject Louisiana history. Jeff discovered his passion for teaching when he was in Korea and Thailand with the army where he taught English as a Second Language. Jeff dreams of buying a house next to the school where he is teaching, get involved with school and community activities, and spend summers taking trips overseas and traveling around the country. Although he is a “success story” Jeff likes to think of himself as a work in progress; he is constantly learning and evolving, takes everything he has learned and continues to move forward.
Jamie is one of the thousands that Volunteers of America serves. She was born and raised in New Orleans, where she lives now. She is a massage therapist and she loves her job because “I get to help people relax and feel better” she says. She has a beautiful daughter, Sabrina, who is 12, and a son, Blake, who is 7. She has a good life with her children and they have fun doing things as a family.
Her life wasn’t always this happy. It’s been full of twists and turns. As a teen, she drank alcohol…and more. She went to school irregularly, only about 3 days a week. Mostly, she says she smoked weed and drank. Jamie was drifting in dangerous directions. In her late 20’s she and her children became homeless. It was then she decided she needed help and she called Volunteers of America. We provided the help she needed…counseling, help with finding a place to live and more importantly says Jamie “they gave me a sense of my own worth.” Volunteers of America’s Mental Health program provides services to people with mental illness and who are homeless by helping them live independently in the community.
“Quiet Hero” David Garic is a retired U.S. Army major who has generously offered his time and talent to support veterans at Volunteers of America’s Veterans Transitional Housing Program.
Veterans make up 1/5th of the homeless population in the US and there are 1,200 to 2,800 homeless veterans living in New Orleans. Our Veterans Transitional Housing program helps homeless veterans rebuild their lives by providing housing, job training, support services, and more. We provide transitional housing for 56 veterans in New Orleans and outreach services to more than 300 homeless veterans in the area. With the help of our program, veterans are able to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and mental and physical health issues. Since the facility opened, 163 homeless veterans have transitioned into employment and self-sufficiency. As David Garic remarks, “For so long these guys served the needs of the nation. This is just a small, very small, way of trying to pay that gratitude and show that gratitude back to them.”
Join us at the Veterans facility for a Reach for the Stars Experience to tour some of the facility and learn first hand some of the many ways Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans is touching lives and building community! Click here for more info and to RSVP.