Pathways Participant Reconnects with Daughter After 35 Years
I want to introduce you to a courageous man. His name is Hulon Morris. He spent 20 years living on the streets, but some of his biggest challenges are happening now that he’s housed. Like many of our clients at Pathways to Housing PA, sometimes the hardest part about being homeless is picking your life up again once you get a place.
Hulon’s journey with homelessness has a lot to do with a little girl who is now a woman. In 1980, Hulon became the proud parent of a baby girl. Hulon loved his daughter, and was devasted on the day he learned that DHS would be removing her from their home. “That really messed me up,” Hulon tells me. A former foster child himself, he was overwhelmed by the idea that his daughter might grow up with the same challenges he faced. “I had a friend down at DHS. I found out where my daughter was, and I went and picked her up,” Hulon says. The police found Hulon within hours. “So they took her away,” he says. “It crushed me.”
Losing his daughter tipped Hulons life out of balance. He started drinking more, cycled through several jobs and cities, and eventually started taking drugs. “I was tired of running around," he says. Taking drugs helped him escape his guilt and undiagnosed depression. "It made me feel like I used to feel-energetic.” The drugs were the final straw. He lost his relationship, his job, and soon was living on the streets. “Every year, I told myself, ‘I’ll find a place by Christmas,’" he recalls. "It crushed me the first year, I said ‘ok’ the next year, and I didn’t have any more feelings after that. I looked up one day, and 6 years had passed.”
All told, Hulon spent 20 years living on the streets. He finally moved into an apartment with Pathways in 2009, and it was a difficult transition for him. Hulon spent about 8 months sleeping on the floor in one corner of his living room, recreating the kind of tent structures he used on the streets. “I wasn’t used to sleeping in an apartment. I was real depressed," he recalls. "Adam [his Team Leader] didn’t think I was going to make it.” Dr. Lara and former Team Leader Adam Fussaro were both instrumental in patiently building trust with Hulon. He got on depression meds, and was diagnosed with diabetes. He slowly started drinking less, and learned to go shopping without feeling overwhelmed.
Then, just a few months ago, Hulon encountered a new challenge. His daughter, after 35 years of not seeing him, messaged him on Facebook. “When she found me, I felt like this,” Hulon says, demonstrating an inch tall with his fingers. It took Hulon several months to even respond. “When I was living on the streets, I used to tell myself, ‘Maybe she isn’t really mine,’ just to take away some of that guilt,” Hulon says. “To look at her brought all that back. I felt I was a bad person.” They met up, several months ago. Now he's waiting to see how he feels, gathering his courage to see her again.
Rebuilding his relationship with his daughter, and learning to forgive himself for leaving her, will be a long, hard journey for Hulon. But from day one, when he slept in a corner for 8 months before finally moving into his bedroom, Hulon has been facing his fears. “I don’t imagine anymore,” he tells me. “I did a lot of imagining on the streets. Now, I just take it one day at a time.” With his incredible courage and his wisdom in taking life at his own pace, Hulon is slowly rebuilding his life one day at a time.
You can support people like Hulon, who are just beginning their journeys with life indoors. Click here to donate, and help them take the next steps.
About the Author
Becca DeWhitt is an MBA candidate at Temple University. She is passionate about creating a world where everyone's experience and perspective is valued, and sees story-telling as a powerful tool to that end.