After suddenly losing his job over a decade ago, Anthony felt something inside him break. He soon found himself homeless, sleeping in a park or abandoned building. He recalls the street as a place where everyone wants to be somewhere else, but no one knows how to move away from their present situation.
When a friend invited him to The Well Community several years ago, he was hesitant at first. But, since then he’s come to know The Well as the place where he can leave behind the hardships of the streets. “The Well is a good place to go for me,” he says, sharing how his interactions with the staff and volunteers impact him in a positive way, and how Thursday Night Life worship services have helped him grow spiritually. “It gives me a place of stability.” He also sees how The Well is a place of refuge for members, a place where they can find safety and security they don’t have elsewhere. “[Members] don’t always have somewhere to go where they can feel comfortable sitting with people, dining with them, eating good food, being comfortable in their environment.”
One of the first things Anthony enjoyed at The Well was being able to eat hot meals—a welcome change as, since he had become homeless, he had sometimes been forced to dig through the trash in search of food. And, he liked being able to lend a hand. He was willing to help with jobs like cleaning and taking out the trash, and serving in these ways gave him a sense of purpose. “It really did set me free,” he recalls. “I feel a lot better now.”
As Anthony began to take on more responsibility, The Well sought to make him a part-time staff member. The process was long and complicated, however, as he lacked any form of ID—a common challenge among those who live with serious mental illnesses, and one that often prevents them from applying for assistance. But The Well’s staff persisted, helping Anthony acquire the documentation he needed. He now holds a paid position at The Well, and at a time when Well Community members’ needs are great, he is right there to help.
However, while Anthony had found a place to belong and serve, he still returned to the street each night when the doors of The Well closed. For several years, he’d dreamed of having a place to stay that he could call his own, though he was reluctant to pursue getting an apartment until he was certain he could manage it by himself. He was determined that once he left homelessness behind, he would never go back.
Now, after 13 years of living on the streets, Anthony has a bed to call his own. As the newest resident of Jacob’s House, The Well’s boarding house for men, he not only has a safe home, but benefits from living in an accepting community where everyone understands what it’s like to struggle with mental health challenges. He and the seven other men at Jacob’s House enjoy regular, nutritious meals and are able to come alongside one another as they pursue stability. And, when they’re struggling, they can reach out to The Well’s staff to help them overcome hurdles.
For many members of The Well, homelessness is a long-term hardship. Those who deal with serious mental illnesses face numerous obstacles in obtaining secure housing, making them more likely to live on the streets or in unsafe accommodations. These living situations can make managing mental health conditions an even greater challenge and can prevent those faced with them from taking steps toward stability.
But, thanks to the support they receive through The Well Community, members are better able to access resources to help them in the compounding challenges of insecure housing and mental illness and are encouraged by others who understand and accept them. There, Anthony and many like him can take steps toward dreams of stability.
The Well Community offers support and a refugee from the daily struggles of dealing with serious mental illnesses. Your gift to The Well will help address underlying issues that lead to housing challenges among these individuals, and as well as assist members in taking steps toward mental health stability.
Be sure to follow The Well Community on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the challenges faced by those living with mental illnesses, as well as how The Well provides a place of community and support.