Bruce admits, when he walked through the doors at Catholic Charities’ Exodus Residence, there was a part of him that wanted to turn around and walk right back out the door.
However, Bruce, 55, had nowhere else to turn. He was out of options.
“I had no clue what to expect. I never knew anything about shelters before. I was comfortable before,” he said. “This is a first time for me and it’s all Greek.”
Bruce had previously been always been able to take care of himself, always had work, always was able to keep things together—until he just couldn’t do it anymore. He worked for years as a heavy equipment operator, mining rocks and operating Bobcats. Working hard in the country was what he knew; working to get better in the heart of the city was foreign to him.
“I pretty much fell part and I knew I needed help. I got myself back together at the hospital,” he said.
Upon leaving North Memorial, the closest thing he had to a home was his car. He had already slept in it for six months. While Bruce no longer required hospitalization when he arrived at Exodus Residence, he had myriad health problems and needed additional help.
At Exodus Residence, Bruce has a simple, furnished room to himself. Meals are served three times daily. He can do his laundry, watch TV, play pool or exercise in the basement. The on-site nursing team dispenses medication and helps manage health care.
Over time, Bruce started to thrive at Exodus. With the support of the nursing staff, his health has improved, he’s utilizing support and saying no to alcohol. He still needs to have both of his knees replaced—years of heavy work has been hard on his body.
While Bruce will need medical care and support in the future, he now sees the positive possibilities in life and he’s thankful Exodus was there when he desperately needed it.
“This place is to get off the street, stay healthy and moving forward toward being a productive citizen,” he said. “This isn’t a permanent home. It’s supposed to be temporary.”
Bruce said he also has benefited by the familial community of residents at Exodus. He hopes to move in an apartment of his own soon, but plans to retain many of the friendships he made while staying at Exodus.
“Exodus changed my life in a way that I needed it to,” he said.
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