Freddie’s Endearing Advocate

Freddie didn’t plan on needing to stay at Higher Ground Shelter—very few people do. Yet when he was going through a divorce and found himself without a home, the support he found at Catholic Charities gave him the stability and energy he needed to continue moving forward one step at a time.

Freddie remembers hearing his name called early one morning in the shelter. With all his family in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Georgia, he didn’t know who would know him there. Little did he know he was meeting a person he would soon call his guardian angel, Client Advocate Loni Caldwell.

Now a Housing Case Manager, Loni remembers this morning, too. It was during the height of the pandemic and special funds were allocated to help isolate guests in hotel rooms, especially older guests, and Loni had a feeling that Freddie would benefit from this. Freddie was working at the time, and while Loni emphasizes that everyone who enters the shelter is treated equally, guests who already have jobs and schedules to work around do require different accommodations. She helped to arrange everything for Freddie’s hotel stay, her job as a Client Advocate complete, and they moved on…

She’s more than an advocate or a social worker—she’s a friend. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.

Four months later they reconnected at the shelter after recognizing one another while Loni was assisting other guests and Freddie was looking for his Advocate. Unfortunately, Freddie’s health had deteriorated since their last encounter–he was receiving regular cancer treatment and had undergone two very intensive surgeries. His life was upside down, and he couldn’t support himself the way he had in the past without employment. Freddie was ready to give up, but Loni stepped in. She assisted with doctor’s appointments, gathering paperwork, and arranging various support services to come to him.

Today, Freddie is stably housed through Section 8 and cancer-free. He credits Loni for everything he has now, including his life. “She goes the extra mile for you,” he said. “She’s more than an advocate or a social worker—she’s a friend. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.” Loni helped Freddie find hope through illness and the experience of homelessness, empowering him to want more for himself. Loni doesn’t necessarily see it that way but believes she was fulfilling her purpose. “He just needed a helping hand and he showed up for himself.”

When asked if there was anything else he would like people to know about Catholic Charities, or the services he received, Freddie said he believes in his heart that Catholic Charities is here for people who need help and wants everyone to know if they need support, they can find it here. If you would like to help support clients like Freddie and case managers like Loni, please consider making a gift.

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