Thanks to you, Antoine knows he has a place to sleep every night. In bunk 119, at the very back of Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground shelter, he looks out the window and watches the trains speed through Minneapolis.
Antoine has a bunk of his own because he earned it. He’s a client volunteer at Higher Ground, where he primarily works to keep the kitchen clean and stocked with necessary supplies. Volunteering secures him a bunk and allows him to come through the doors before others there.
“There are a lot of things to do in the kitchen; can’t have messes,” he said. “I love working in the kitchen. My mom and my grandmother taught me something.”
Kitchens are familiar territory for Antoine, 33. He attended culinary school and worked in kitchens and hotels for a long time, before his world was shaken by the loss of his mother.
“My mom was saying it was time for her to go, but I have a learning disability and I didn’t understand what she meant,” he said.
Seeing his mom be hospitalized and then die was heartbreaking for Antoine. While he already had depression, he sunk even deeper when he quit taking his medications. He tried to pretend all was okay, but he was struggling to get through each day.
“I was so depressed,” he said. “Inside, I was really angry. I still have breakdowns every once in a while.”
But now, with the stability of Higher Ground and the support of Catholic Charities’ staff, Antoine is building himself back up again.
“Catholic Charities has done a lot for me,” he said. “The staff has motivated me to go out and get a job.”
With confidence gained from volunteering, Antoine secured a position as a dishwasher at a large department store over the holiday season.
When he daydreams, he thinks of a house in the south, away from the harsh climate of Minnesota. He’ll live in a large house there, filled with a loving family.
“I have 150 recipes in my head. I’m going to have a food bus and serve southern food—home cooking. I see a lot of food trucks, but I don’t see a food bus,” he smiles.