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  • Writer's pictureDevelopment

Homeless to Hopeful

Robert is a testament to loyalty and bravery. He served for two years as a firefighter in the United States Air Force. After leaving the military, he spent 28 years in California until a family emergency called him back to Illinois. Robert's beloved uncle suffered a stroke and required a full-time caretaker. Without hesitation, Robert went to be by his uncle’s side.

For three years, Robert provided care for his uncle until his passing. Following his uncle's death, Robert faced hard times. He lost his job, lost his home, and struggled with long-time substance use issues. With nowhere to turn, Robert checked into a Specialized Mental Health Rehab Facility.

He had one goal: recovery. Homeless to Hopeful Robert packed up his few belongings and moved into the large, three-story brick building housing more than 100 participants living with mental illness.

"The center is what you make of it," says Robert.

The institution encouraged residents to attend programs promoting recovery and rehabilitation. When Robert was not attending programs, his days consisted of watching the television, spending time outside, or walking around the building. As someone who has been independent for most of his life, he yearned for a life and place to call home.

Robert needed help. The process to move out is tedious. Without the proper paperwork and support, it can seem impossible. Luckily, Robert ran into an Association House caseworker working with other residents as part of the Comprehensive Class Member Transition Program. Shortly after, Robert and his new caseworker made a plan to get Robert a home of his own.

The moving out process can be lengthy - taking upwards of 10 years for some. Many get stuck and never find independence. Fortunately for Robert, he was ready to move out in a year and a half. For the past three years, Robert has created a new life in his very own place to call home.

Robert is grateful for his home, and more so, the communities he is now a part of. Every Sunday, Robert attends mass with his neighbor, who is a pastor at their local church. He also meets weekly with his caseworker, and frequently visits the Association House Drop-In Center. Finding a home has not only given Robert a place to live, but a life to look forward to.

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