A year of stability, opportunity and hope

“The last few years I’ve been there, I don’t know too many things I haven’t done to make myself better.”

Warren, Higher Ground Saint Paul resident

In the story of Warren’s life, this last year has been a chapter full of meaningful milestones.

Just one year ago, Warren went from sleeping on the floor of Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day Center and moved to his new home on the third floor home at Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul.

Warren, 55, was all smiles looking around the room, imagining where his cereal boxes would go, where he would like to put a television once he bought one.

A year later, he has his cereal boxes in their rightful spot and the TV he saved for is there, along with so much more. His walls are covered in photos, a tagboard sign proclaiming ‘Run Warren Run’. His prized Christmas present is there, a large-print bible that doesn’t strain his eyes.

Having a home, Warren will attest, is not about the possessions one can store, but the opportunities and progress that come with the stability of housing.

“I have someplace I can call my own and someplace I can feel like I’m doing something other than just sitting around,” he said.

Indeed, Warren rarely sits around. Every Sunday, he attends Beacon of Hope Church. He is a member of the New Day Street Choir, comprised of Catholic Charities neighbors who join their voices in song. He’s a runner with the Higher Ground Saint Paul team of Mile in My Shoes, running early mornings with the team. He competed in two 5Ks and one 10K this year. He has his improved health to show for it. Looking to improve his public speaking skills, he joined Toastmasters. In an effort to stay busy and help where he can, Warren volunteers in the kitchen at Catholic Charities’ Mary Hall, working to get breakfast on the table for his neighbors.

“I didn’t think I was going to have that much fun, but I limited myself by thinking that,” Warren said.

With other goals in mind, Warren has kept busy with job training classes, working with both Twin Cities Rise and Avivo, formerly RESOURCE, Inc. This year alone he earned a ServSafe food handling certificate, completed his boilers license and earned a certified pool operator’s license. In the next couple of months, he hopes to get his drivers license back.

The stability of a key of his very own has made this progress possible.

“I’ve gotten quite a bit accomplished since I first came to Dorothy Day,” he says humbly, he’s more of a jokester than a braggart. Still he has reason to be proud and is thankful for those who have helped him on his journey.

“The last few years I’ve been there, I don’t know too many things I haven’t done to make myself better,” Warren said.

While Warren appreciates his home at Higher Ground Saint Paul —with the affordable rent—he is working to move forward with his life and move on to make his third floor home available for the next person who needs it.

Warren first came to Catholic Charities three years ago, in 2015. Then, he had been experiencing homelessness for more than a year, going from couches of family and friends. It was straining relationships; he wasn’t sleeping well and wasn’t making progress toward his goals. He was too busy focusing on getting through each day to worry about tomorrows.

“Being on a couch doesn’t really help with the physical or mental state of being,” he said.
At Higher Ground Saint Paul, Warren has independence while also having the support of case managers. He has a place to sleep, food to eat and volunteer work to fill his days. He is thankful and proud of how far he has come, but ready to move ahead with his next goals.

Mid-conversation his words stop as he looks out the window at people lining up for shelter that night.

“I’m so glad I’m not down there anymore,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about getting a spot. I’m glad I can enter anytime I want. I don’t have to wait in a dayroom.”

Warren said he hopes this year is filled with as much progress as the last turn of the calendar. With the security and stability of a home, his goals have room to grow.

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