This time of year takes me back to a New Year’s not so long ago. I moved one cold day — to the backseat of my ’98 Buick. I huddled inside a quilt my godmother made for me and started the car engine as often as I dared to try to stay warm.
I landed in this terrible situation after I tripped coming down the stairs one day the previous summer. My Achilles tendon snapped. I couldn’t walk steadily, or work, for a long time. In six months, I went from a good automotive job and my own apartment to becoming homeless. Soon, I sold the car to try to pay for a motel room. The $500 I got didn’t hold out long against the $200 a week rate.
I replayed that fall in my mind as I tried to sleep — now on frigid park benches. But outside you always have one eye open. You know you aren’t safe. You just wonder what in the world happened. This isn’t how you live.
So when you find your way to Greensboro Urban Ministry, as I did, you feel relief. The staff and volunteers walked beside me, helping me find guidance I needed to sign up for unemployment and VA disability benefits. I found a warm, safe bed in Weaver House shelter. I ate in Potter’s House Community Kitchen, and even helped out when they were shorthanded. I regained my footing. I could not have done it without the support of folks like you.
Today, I still help out in Potter’s House, and I work with some of the same volunteers who served me when I was a shelter guest. Now, though, I’m on Greensboro Urban Ministry’s Board of Directors, and volunteers come to me when they have a question or concern. It feels good to give back. I’m also a Stephen Minister in the chaplaincy program, and I walk beside men who are now in the fire of a crisis themselves. I know their story. And I tell them, look at me, you can do this too.
When I get home after a full day at Greensboro Urban Ministry, I still like to wrap up in my godmother’s quilt on cold nights. Now, though, the quilt is folded at the end of my bed. And I say thank you for the many ways my life is being blessed and elevated.
Read and hear more about Howard’s journey.