Homeless Doesn't Mean Helpless

  • Pete posing with muscles
    Pete wants you to know that homeless doesn't mean helpless. If you put your mind to anything, you can do it.
  • Pete with his bike
    Pete bought a bike to get more excercise. Now he bikes 15-20 miles per day!
  • Pete and Mary flex.
    Pete works with his Team Service Coordinator, Mary, to make healthy choices.

As you know, staying healthy, losing weight and getting enough exercise is one of life’s hardest challenges. Add to that a history of being homeless for 12 years, suffering from an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness, and staying healthy seems nearly impossible.

But Pete Mollica refuses to let his past stop him from reaching his goals and bettering his life every day. We sat down to talk with Pete, now 52, about his new lifestyle.

What made you want to begin this healthier lifestyle?
3 years ago, I was getting out of shape, put on some pounds and realized I wasn’t getting any younger. So I decided to get back in shape.

What’s your exercise regime?
I work out 3 to 4 days a week. I looked up some workouts on exercise websites and work on a different part of my body each time I go. I also bought a bike so I can ride and get more exercise when I go places. I ride about 15-20 miles per day. I ride the entire Fairmount Park path.

Where do you work out when you’re not riding your bike?
I budget my money so I have enough to set aside for a gym membership. I’ve been going for 3 years.

How about your diet? Has that changed at all?

Yeah, I have a pretty strict diet. I have a protein shake, egg whites and grape nuts for breakfast. For lunch, I have tuna and salad. For a snack, I eat rice cakes. At dinner, I make boneless, skinless chicken, brown rice and veggies, and before bed it’s another protein shake. I cook everything. I’m Italian and my Mom taught me how to cook.

What improvements have you seen since you changed your lifestyle 3 years ago?
I lost 25 pounds. I used to be 210 and now am 185. I have more energy and stamina, and I just feel better.

You do all of this despite a pretty rough past and some hopeless days. Do you feel comfortable talking about that?
Yes, I was homeless for 12 years. I lost my job at a bakery and couldn’t afford to pay my rent and other bills. I didn’t know it at the time but I had some mental health issues that weren’t being treated and all of that led me to the streets.

What happened when you found Pathways?
6 years ago, I was staying at the café (shelter). They gave me an evaluation, and I found out about my mental health diagnosis. That’s when Pathways came and met with me. Adam talked with me and said, “How would you like to have your own apartment?”

Once you talked to Pathways, how long did it take you to get an apartment.
After I talked to Adam, I moved in to my own apartment within 3 weeks and I’ve had my own place for 6 years.

What’s your favorite part about your apartment?
It’s big, and there are a lot of stores nearby, and all the people are really friendly. I keep it very clean and like to cook in my kitchen.

If Pathways hadn’t found you 6 years ago, what do you think your life would be like?
I’d probably still be out there on the streets. And I wouldn’t have the help from Pathways to take care of my health and treat my mental health issues. I just want to thank Pathways for saving my life.

There are a lot of myths going around about homelessness. If you could tell people one thing, what would that be?
Homeless doesn’t mean helpless. If you put your mind to anything, you can do it.

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