Participant Stories

Michael's Story

Michael’s Story

Michael, born on an army base while his dad was serving in the airforce, moved around a lot as a kid, spending most of his childhood between Los Angeles and Texas. After serving in the Marine Corps for 13 years on the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, he returned to the US and picked up his studies in Austin. And when he received a job offer in Los Angeles, he saw it as an opportunity to go home.

Michael hopped on the plane to begin his new life, and the next thing he remembered was waking up in the ICU at UCLA 11 days later. An injury on Michael’s foot had become infected, and the infection had spread to his bloodstream. Michael spent the next year in the hospital and recuperative care, going through six surgeries to save his leg and foot. Finally, Michael was better, and he was discharged from the hospital – with nowhere to go. He was out on the streets.

Through a referral from the Department of Health Services, Michael was connected to LA Family Housing and began his search for housing. It wasn’t long before he received word that he would be able to call the Crest Apartments home.*

“I feel safe and secure living at the Crest Apartments. It has case management on-site, a day room, a full community kitchen, computer room and 24 hour security for our safety. LA Family Housing staff help out a lot. I am thankful to LA Family Housing for helping me get back on my feet and off the streets. I’m thankful for the time and effort that they give to each and every one of the tenants at the Crest Apartments. LA Family Housing does not and will not give up.”

Michael shows off his skateboards bearing the logo of his future art studio.

Michael shows off his skateboards bearing the logo of his future art studio.

Now Michael is completing an Entrepreneurship Program at Pepperdine University and hopes to open his own art studio, offering art classes to the community. His room is covered in beautiful paintings and detailed skateboards, demonstrating his natural talent for art. For now, he shares this talent with his community at The Crest, offering art classes to the other residents, often combined with another passion of his: cooking.

“I teach an affordable cooking class because I want to help out and give back – I don’t like seeing people without food. I don’t ask for much, I just ask that people leave with a smile on their face.”

 

*The Crest Apartments are owned by Skid Row Housing Trust with supportive services provided on-site by LA Family Housing.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes - Taina

Taina's aunt told her as a young child that she would never amount to anything. And for a long time, Taina believed her. Taina's past is a story of pain and abuse. Going in and out of the foster care system, she also struggled with bipolar disorder and depression. She didn't feel in control of her life.

But today Taina is at Bridge Housing, and feels hopeful for her future. "I was a victim in the past, but not anymore. I'm responsible for my choices, and I choose to be positive." Taina has learned to read, she is three years sober, she is painting, and she is ready to learn to drive and find housing. Taina wanted to share this poem about her life journey:

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Walk a mile in my shoes and you will see my struggles

To some it may only look like trouble

Don't get your head twisted

I don't want to be another statistic

I'm just trying to live my life in pursuit

Of happiness, but sometimes

My heart gets filled with pain and disappointment and fear

So I fight to see the light

To be the woman that GOD wants me to be and

Never give up and always stay strong

cause only the strong survive

the pain and fear inside is only temporary

for I am not what they say I am

I am my own architect and through my words

I speak loud and clear so when the sun comes up tomorrow

I will put away my sorrows and embrace the day

Thanking GOD that i have a dream to follow

Walk a mile in my shoes and you will see my struggle

Bruce

I have lived what many would consider to be a gifted life. I’ve seen great success and benefit for my accomplishments. I’ve been the visual director for a major department store, I’ve run my own display, design, and decorating business, I’ve been a professional photographer, and the national visual coordinator for Disney corporate showrooms and tradeshows. My professional and personal life was all a dream come true...until it all fell apart.

Due to a life threatening health issue, hospital bills, an inability to work, and the loss of my home/work studio, I crumbled. This led to 6-7 years of homelessness, depression, and anxiety. A dear friend suggested I go to the LGBTQ center for possible assistance. The center offered senior assistance for those over 60. I met Michael Kelly (an amazing man) who connected me to LA Family Housing. And so started a long, arduous process of trying to find a safe and stable place to live. Through many ups and downs, through many hopes and disappointments, at last one day I got the call and was asked, “How would you like an apartment of your own in a brand new building?”

It was not an easy process, but finally the day had come – on January 9, I moved into a jaw droppingly beautiful, spacious apartment at The Fiesta. I was expecting something like a small college dorm room studio with a tiny mattress on the floor, but I wasn’t even close. When I walked into my unit, I was without words. I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable and extraordinary it was to walk into this contemporary living space. What I can tell you is that in the afternoon we had a tenant meeting in the lobby. As the team spoke, the message rang out…”You are home now,” “You are safe.”

My eyes welled up with tears as the realization sunk in…this is my home, I am safe from tweekers, the streets, and domestic abuse. And I had the comfort of mind in knowing that my future had security and direction. The years of insecurity had passed and a new dawn of hope and optimism had emerged, a future of possibilities (previously out of reach) lay before me. All of our lives face challenges in our different paths, different forks in the road, different outcomes to life’s tragedies. But, without hope our paths can seem to lead nowhere. Yet with the compassionate efforts of LA Family Housing and its supporters, some of us can now see that path forward to a better place.

Marilyn Monroe once said:

“Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together.”

And it was Nelson Mandella who said:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Better things are ahead and the seemingly impossible task of solving this humanitarian crisis, which is the homelessness epidemic, is not yet done. But, LA Family Housing and The Fiesta are taking a significant step towards making the impossible possible and to bring the better into our lives.