Michael presently lives in a West Eugene apartment with his companion parakeet, Jade. Michael treasures the ability to close his door and have a safe space to call his home. Here, he spends his days researching science, technology, and current events on his desktop computer while Jade chirps and chatters from the keyboard. However, this scene was not always the norm, as only a few years ago, Michael was living on the streets of Eugene.
While working at a retail center Michael simultaneously underwent a battle with severe anxiety and depression. Eventually, Michael was let go and struggled to find another job. He spiraled deeper into depression and anxiety, and with no support, he lost hope. Unable to pay rent, he was forced onto the streets and remained so for a year and a half.
One day, while helping his friend contact services at White Bird Medical Clinic, Michael’s journey towards a better life began. A counselor at White Bird noticed Michael and connected him to ShelterCare’s Shankle Safe Haven Program. His first day with the program, he was so filled with anxiety that he could not even enter the Shankle building. He left, dejected. The next day though, Dave, a ShelterCare employee, supported him through this transition period and Michael began his time at ShelterCare.
Michael experienced a variety of ShelterCare programs as his needs evolved with his healing. He went from Shankle Safe Haven to Afiya to Short-Term Housing on Highway 99 . In housing, Michael reports to have felt very blessed to have a closet which to hold his possessions. He described it as a luxury many people in his position do not get. Michael then moved to the River Bend Program and received an apartment that was his very own. This was another major positive shift in his life. He gained a sense of ownership and control which he hadn’t experienced in a long time. With an improved sense of self-worth, he felt he could graduate from ShelterCare housing, so he applied to Section 8 and soon after received the voucher. He moved out of the River Bend Program to his current home, an apartment complex in West Eugene.
Michael loves his current living situation. He has a safe space to call his home while still meeting with his ShelterCare Community Health Worker, Patricia. Michael speaks very highly of Patricia, who helps Michael manage his medical appointments and other health-related logistics. Michael praises her organizational skills, dependability, and vivacious spirit which helps him maintain a positive mindset. Michael says “ShelterCare has good therapists and people that care.”
Michael is open-minded, curious, and possesses an easy kindness that makes him a pleasure to talk to. He speaks fondly of his companion parakeet, Jade, who keeps him busy. She has free range from wall to wall and will sit atop Michael’s keyboard, chattering away. They keep each other company as he follows his curiosity online. Specifically, Michael has always had a strong affinity for researching science, technology, and current events. He finds pleasure in seeing how human technology has progressed from the past and where it will go in the future.
Throughout his personal journey, Michael has learned valuable skills and insights. He learned that he is more in control of his life than he ever thought possible. Against all of his own initial objections, he understands he is a valuable human being who is worth helping. Michael also recognizes he can trust ShelterCare and others to help him. He had serious trust issues when he first started at ShelterCare; but now, he believes ShelterCare has his best interests at heart. Currently, Michael hopes for more of the same. He treasures his time with Jade, keeping up to date on current events, science, and technology in his safe home; and above all, that things continue to be good.
A special thank you to Paul Herman for writing this story.