On the very last night of shelter at Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day Center, Eugene approached the front desk with an urgent plea, “Can I move in early please?”
Eugene, 50, had been spending his nights on the dining room floor at Dorothy Day Center, trying to get some rest, but a good night’s sleep was elusive. His belongings were packed up and he was more than ready to say goodbye to sleeping on those thin mats on the hard floor that never seemed to get warm, especially when the mercury plunged on Minnesota January nights.
“I sleep close to the back door, next to a friend, but my back is killing me,” he said. “I’m thankful to Dorothy Day Center, but it’s hard to sleep.”
The next morning, as soon as he could, Eugene walked down the street to his new home on the fifth floor of Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul.
“When I wake up in my new room I’m going to smile,” he said. “I’m going to relax and meditate.”
The search for peace and quiet has been a long one for Eugene. He’s called Saint Paul home for 30 years, but his early years were rough; he’s been shot at three different times. Eugene still carries a bullet in his back. At Higher Ground Saint Paul, he’s hoping to enjoy the peaceful life he’s been working toward.
While the shelter there would have been more than a step up, being able to move into the residence there was a blessing for Eugene.
“I found out I got a place the beginning of December. I was excited, oh my God, yes I was,” he said. “I can keep it clean the way I want. I like having my own key to my own place. I sure wanted to move in.”
His room is small, but affordable. It features gorgeous views of his favorite city. The amenities he needs are all on his floor or within walking distance. It’s been more than one year since Eugene has had a place to call home. Leaving shelter life behind will allow him to get moving on accomplishing goals, he said. He’s working on getting his license back and started working out at the YMCA.
“I’m stable now,” he explained. “At the shelter, you’re not stable. You have to carry your belongings with you wherever you go, you have to get dressed in a hurry. When I have a home I can take my time getting dressed better and go out and take care of business.”
As he ‘takes care of business,’ Eugene hopes he can set himself up to move onto independence and leave his spot at Higher Ground Saint Paul for the next person who needs a hand up.
“Hopefully, in a year, I’ll be saved up and moved into my own place. I hope I can have my own place where I can have a dog again.”