JohnThe plans were in place. Marriage, a job transfer, and a new city awaited him. John knew what he wanted and where he was going. But sometimes that’s just not enough.
Situations changed. John, a 57-year-old New York City native and Air Force veteran, had arrived in San Francisco, but broke and alone. “I had used my money to come here, and my job transfer didn’t come through,” he said. Discouraged, he resisted going back to the persistent drug habit that had shackled him for more than 20 years.
“Not getting married was one of the big things that caused me to derail,” he said. “I didn’t use (drugs) or anything like that, but I found myself here homeless.”
Fortunately through PHC he also found Swords to Plowshares, the Bay Area-based nonprofit that specifically helps homeless vets. He immediately received an interview and counseling from the organization, and he said it simply “put me on the right track.”
John’s commitment to the program initially made all the difference. “I followed through with everything they asked me to do,” he said. “I went to all the interviews I was to go to. I was honest with the counselor.”
That dedication energized his confidence and ambition. He could again make plans. He might face challenges, “but I took it as an opportunity instead of a downturn,” he said.
Now, only a year after coming to San Francisco, John is living in a comfortable two-bedroom house and has returned to school for career retraining in Web development. He’s even started a business, Marketplace Services Unlimited, which specializes in Internet marketing and Website design. “It’s just been a completely new and growing experience,” he said.
John’s growth has included other aspects of his life as well. He has reaffirmed his faith and personal values – both a casualty of his drug battles for many years – simply by helping others. Last summer he volunteered at an event that helped homeless veterans locate the kind of services he himself found through PHC and Swords to Plowshares. And he now volunteers at a food bank once a week.
“I’ve found two things about volunteering and helping people,” he said. “First of all, it makes your problems small. The other thing is that in order to be blessed, you have to be a blessing.”