Self confidence is a struggle for most of us. Appearance plays heavily into self esteem, and the desire to fit in and just look like everyone else is especially strong for folks who have had injuries that affect their appearance. Some turn to cosmetic surgery for a boost to their self esteem, though not everyone has the means or the opportunity to make that happen.
Jose is a multi-talented participant on Team 2 at Pathways. He is currently working hard to enroll in a GED program and recently completed his resume to branch out and look for employment. Jose has decided to focus on working towards some exciting career goals and his team is there beside him if he wants help.
Until 10 months ago, I used substances for 40 years. I grew up poor and started using crack cocaine when I was a 12-year-old kid because my stepfather was a big time drug dealer and used to bring 10 kilos from Miami every week. We would steal drugs from him and snort them and I became addicted at a young age because they were there for the taking. Then my mom put us in a home, also around when I was 12, and there were drugs there too. I was young and had easy access and it made addiction easy.
Navigating SEPTA tunnels and the busy sidewalks of South Philadelphia is not an unfamiliar task to David. Adventuring for him comes in the form of tacos and pad-thai. David is a part of Restaurant Club, which is a way for participants to come together to explore new cuisines while building relationships with one another. This is only one small component of integrating community inclusion practices into our programming at Pathways to Housing PA.
On any given night, there are more than 6,200 homeless people in Philadelphia. Of those, more than 1,100 are sleeping outside. I was once one of those people.
I struggled with substance use and lived on the streets for more than 10 years before I came into contact with Pathways to Housing PA. I could have gone home to live with my mom but I wasn’t living right. I didn’t want to bring my problems to her. I couldn’t have gotten into a program – I was using every day.
With the official start of fall earlier this week, we are reminded that school has started and we're entering a season of change. At Pathways to Housing PA, we are no strangers to embracing change and encouraging our participants to do so as well. A part of rebuilding and reclaiming life starts with making decisions for yourself, which can sometimes be a huge step for our participants who have spent quite a lot of time with no control over their own lives.
I spoke to Susan on a Friday afternoon. She was dressed in spring colors, pastel pinks and blues, with her hair pulled back beneath a cap. She was going on a group outing that afternoon and I could tell she was looking forward to it. She introduced herself with a bright smile that reached all the way up to warm eyes, crinkled at the corners. Nervous, she began her story haltingly.
We are sitting in his studio apartment. I am on the sofa, and David is in his recliner, clearly his favorite place to sit. He’s angled slightly so that he can glance in my direction during the interview without having to completely take his eyes off of his television. An older model, but one of his prized possessions Renee tells me, the service coordinator from his team who has volunteered to accompany me to his home.