About a decade ago, Anthony was a young man working for FedEx, loading and unloading boxes from trucks in North Dallas. But when he suddenly lost his job, something inside of him fell apart, he says.
“I just couldn’t deal,” says Anthony. “I just fell into nothing.”
Anthony moved to Oak Cliff, hoping at first to stay with his aunt, who lived there. But he didn’t feel comfortable in her home, and within an hour, he left to sleep outside in a nearby park.
“I was just out there … not really starving, but hungry,” he says.
At first, being homeless frightened Anthony. He was scared to eat lest the garbage he could find made him sick. He hestitated to ask for help for fear of being turned away.
Eventually, he began digging through trash for food. In the afternoons, he would sit outside of 7-Eleven. In the evenings, he would sleep in an abandoned building. Occasionally, he worked for small change or a sandwich. Every once in a while, he volunteered to take out the trash for a convenience store.
Though Anthony visited a doctor for mental health issues, he was never formally diagnosed with a mental health condition; unlike most Well members, who struggle with mental illness, he’s not sure he has one. “There’s just something wrong with me,” he says. “I can’t explain it. I didn’t want to be bothered by anybody. I didn’t want to bother anybody.”
A few years ago, a friend invited Anthony to The Well. Though his friend has since stopped attending, Anthony has stayed, visiting Cliff Temple Baptist Church almost every time The Well is open—which is just about every day.
Why? It’s a comfortable place, says Anthony. “I’m off the streets when I’m here,” he says. “I feel really good.”
Anthony helps the staff at The Well by taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom and doing odd jobs. In turn, he spends time on the computers listening to music and playing games. He says The Well is a place where he can come to escape the darkness of life on the streets, where he sees men and women battling hard drugs and facing death on a regular basis.
“There’s a lot of things I just don’t understand when I’m there,” he says, referring to life on the street. “And this place makes more sense to me.”
Anthony recommends The Well to other people who are homeless or battling mental illness and need a place to feel safe. “I think that if you’re a person who is looking to find some direction, you should come here,” he says. “If you’re the kind of person who relates to the woman at the well, not necessarily looking for God, but something new—a change. That’s what I found.”
Want to donate or serve?
Volunteering at The Well is a small commitment that has a great impact on the lives of those who deal with mental illness in Oak Cliff. We are always looking for new volunteers to help serve at Thursday Night Life or our other events. Think you might be interested? Don’t hesitate to call or email! We would love to answer your questions and find the best place for you to use your unique gifts. Contact us.