The common cold – annoying, exhausting, but rarely life changing. Not so for James Massey.

James Massey spent years working in the restaurant industry, working his way into management. A dedicated employee, he frequently worked 60-80 hour weeks. As he puts it, he “couldn’t ask [his] employees to do something he wasn’t willing to do [himself.] [He] had to set the example.” So when James came down with a cold, he did what many people do – he took some cold medicine and tried to power through. When one week of illness turned to three months, he finally went to the doctor and learned that he was suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. His common cold had turned out to be anything but, it was now a life-changing illness. Unable to work, James applied for disability. During the two year wait for his disability approval, bills mounted, James and his wife separated with James retaining custody of their three children, and, ultimately, James and his family lost their housing.

With no family in the area, James turned to Greensboro Urban Ministry’s Pathways Center and several months later, with the help of Greensboro Urban Ministry’s Beyond GUM Program, was able to move into the Partnership Village apartment community. After years of instability, James and his children are finally stable. “I really love it. It’s quiet and peaceful” says James.

Now five years after his diagnosis, James has been in hospice twice, has a defibrillator in his chest to help regulate his heart, and is on the UNOS transplant waiting list. And yet, James shares “I do the best I can with what I have. . . It’s hard right now for me not to be I work, but I can’t work. My doctors don’t want me to work.” Thanks to Greensboro Urban Ministry’s many supporters, James no longer has to worry about housing and can focus on spending time with his family and improving his health. He even has dreams of homeownership and, with the support of his case manager, is working toward making that dream a reality.

To hear more about James’ story, please view his video below.