2015 November Newsletter – Thanksgiving Not Just Another Day for Julius
Julius doesn’t remember where he spent last Thanksgiving Day – just that he was somewhere on the streets of Orlando.
“When you’re homeless, it doesn’t matter what day it is or whether it’s a holiday,” he says. “Every day is the same. You’re just trying to get to the next day.”
That’s how it was for Julius for about a year. Nearly all of the money he made doing construction work went towards drugs and alcohol. When he had a few dollars left, he paid to sleep and get cleaned up at a friend’s house, but most nights were spent in a little shack off Colonial Drive.
“It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep with the heat and mosquitoes biting. Hygiene is a real issue, too. There were times I had to find a fire hydrant so I could clean up. That’s no way to live.”
Julius knew drugs were the problem and he wanted to get off them, but he didn’t know how. A friend said he could get into a treatment program at a mental hospital if he pretended to be crazy and suicidal.
“I contemplated that for a few weeks and actually went there and was going to do it, but something stopped me. I decided try the Mission.”
Julius had actually spent a couple months at the Men’s Center several years earlier and had done well in the program. He left
to tend to a family emergency in Georgia with the intention of coming back to the Mission. But he stayed longer than he expected and, by the time he made it back to Orlando, he thought he had things under control – even though he was drinking and using drugs again.
“It wasn’t really a matter of pride or stubbornness that kept me from going back to the Mission right away.I just kept thinking I was going to start making the right choices and things were going to get better. But instead they kept getting worse. I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Julius was welcomed back with open arms: “It seemed like they were waiting for me. I knew right away this was where I was supposed to be.”
That was in June and Julius has been clean and sober ever since.
“It isn’t hard because I have no worries here. I have a roof over my head . I have food and everything else I need. That allows me to focus on the things I need to do to be successful.”
This Thanksgiving will be a lot different from last year, but Julius isn’t waiting until November 26th to express his gratitude.
” I give thanks to God every single day for leading me back to the Mission,” he said, adding he is also appreciative of the volunteers and financial supporter who make stories like his possible.
“They have no idea how much it means to somebody like me. If it wasn’t for them, I’m afraid to think of what my life would be like today. I pray someday I’m in a position to follow their example and help others.”