With hope, health and hard work, Lam moves ahead

“When I came here, I didn’t have anything. Whatever I needed, they helped. Now, whatever they need, if I can do it, I’ll help them.”


On a cold winter evening, when he didn’t have anywhere else to go, Lam sought refuge in his Toyota van. The 46-year-old had recently lost his job and his home, so he was bunking with the last of his worldly possessions in his only real thing of value—his van.

Others knew Lam was in that 2001 Toyota, so they notified authorities when the temperatures dipped. Lam was found unresponsive. Emergency Medical Services restarted his heart and brought him to Regions Hospital where they saved his life.

At Catholic Charities, Lam says, he’s getting that life back again. After a stay in the Medical Respite Unit, he’s found a new home in Higher Ground Residence.

“I love Catholic Charities; they helped me a lot,” he said.

In addition to recovering from nearly freezing to death in his van, Lam suffers from severe eczema. The condition is not only painful, but embarrassing for him, as his skin will flake off and need to be swept up in the morning. A private room is not a luxury, but a necessity for dignified care.

“I had to get up early and clean up. That hurt me,” he said.

Medical Respite staff helped him with medication, provided him clothing and connected him to vital resources, such as connections to housing at Higher Ground Saint Paul Residence, applying for Social Security Insurance, and other programs, including a care coordinator.

Lam told Denise Williams, the behavioral health professional at Medical Respite, that he was most concerned about his van. “It’s all I had left,” he said, adding he was stressed about the important papers inside, including his Visa. Lam has lived in the United States legally since he arrived in Minnesota at the age of 17, but he didn’t feel secure without the papers which proved his legal status.

Thanks to the Wishing Well Program at Regions Hospital Lam was able to get his van out of the impound lot and retrieve his Visa and other identification.

The Wishing Well at Regions Hospital is a program for patient assistance and immediate hardship needs. This program, funded by the One Campaign employee giving campaign and managed by the Regions Hospital Foundation, assists patients that may not have the means to get to and from the hospital.

Lam is incredibly thankful to all of the people and organizations who have helped him on his journey, but Catholic Charities is close to his heart.

“When I came here, I didn’t have anything. Whatever I needed, they helped. Now, whatever they need, if I can do it, I’ll help them,” he said.

Beyond wanting to do whatever he can to give back, Lam hesitates to make many plans.

“The future, I don’t think about that. I just think step by step,” he said. “I love it here. I have my own room and a kitchen down the hall. Being here makes me feel happy for my life, makes me feel strong for my future.”

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