“I don’t want a handout. I want to work.”
A day at the Welcome Center
Keith enjoyed a happy childhood in a caring community in Maryland. Everybody knew him then; he felt loved and respected his elders.
At age 18, he followed in his sister’s footsteps and moved to California where he attended college and had dreams of a great future. After his mom became sick, he moved back home to be close to family. In Maryland, Keith soon embarked on a life of what he describes as “doing bad things and selling drugs.” Things worked out for some time as Keith made money and travelled around the country—he recalls going to the first casino opened in Atlantic City. But that period of his life caught up with him and caused him to spend 18 months in jail.
After his release, Keith was determined to straighten up his life. He’s held several jobs since, but admits he lacked direction. At 35, he had a son who he says, “turned out nice.”
While working in one of his latest positions at the Washington Convention Center, he fainted and soon learned he was diabetic. “My blood pressure was at 44 when I passed out.” He now takes insulin twice a day.
After a twenty-year relationship failed, Keith decided it would be best to leave the home he says he helped build. “It was best,” he says. “The relationship was toxic.” He left with no money and no job. Since, he has been staying in shelters.
At his current shelter, he learned about Friendship Place and that he could begin the process of getting back on his feet. Keith now focuses entirely on rebuilding his life and on finding direction.
“A shelter is a tough place mentally and physically,” he says. As he waits for his turn to meet with a Friendship Place staff member at the Welcome Center, he feels hopeful. “I don’t want a handout,” he declares, “I want to work.”
Friendship Place Welcome Center is a place where individuals experiencing homelessness can find a place of safety off of the streets. The center provides basic needs such as food, showers, laundry, supplies, and free medical and psychiatric care. Participants are encouraged to access case management services from staff, including referrals to community resources, referrals to our AimHire Job Placement Program, supportive counseling, assessments for housing and mental health services, and assistance in achieving participant-identified goals.
By Yimka Odebode, Assistant Director, Media, Marketing & Communications
and Martina Sestakova, Friendship Place Volunteer/Contributing Writer