Since 2014, life has taken Brian on bit of a roller coaster ride. Struggles with mental illness led to the loss of his full-time job and, eventually, homelessness. Brian was forced to live out of his car and eventually found refuge at HSP’s Cold Weather Shelter, a seasonal overnight shelter where guests can get a hot meal, take a shower and even do laundry. After meeting with an HSP intake coordinator, he discovered his mental health diagnosis qualified him for the Safe Haven shelter, a longer-term shelter specifically for those battling with the challenges of mental illness. He was happy to have a place to try to get back on his feet.
“The case managers at Safe Haven were outstanding. They helped connect me to other resources and encouraged me. It was like all of Carroll County simply wrapped their arms around me,” Brian said.
While staying at Safe Haven, Brian began attending the monthly Circle of Caring meetings to add his voice to the group of citizens, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies addressing issues contributing to homelessness in Carroll County. He also began volunteering at On Our Own of Carroll County, a peer support wellness and recovery program for those struggling with addiction and mental illness.
After making progress with his mental health treatment, Brian began to look for work opportunities, but he did not want another “dead-end desk job.” Volunteering at On Our Own opened his eyes to the world of peer-support programs, and he felt it was a place where he could make a difference. Having spent much of his teens and 20s under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he could use his own story of recovery to help those currently battling addictions. And as someone currently battling through the struggles of mental illness, he could identify with those in the program who were in the same boat.
Making the most of his time at Safe Haven, Brian utilized many of HSP’s other services including free tax preparation, energy assistance, and financial education workshops. Last year, when Brian felt it was time to move on from Safe Haven, HSP’s Permanent Supportive Housing program was able to assist with his security deposit and help him transition into a place he could call his own.
“It’s quite wonderful to have a place of my own,” Brian said. “I try to stay grateful – for HSP and the other people who have helped me – just grateful to be alive because there were many times where I should not have made it. Sometimes, the hardest words to say, are ‘will you please help me?’ I had to humble myself and do that, and I still have to do that.”
Brian came to HSP during a crisis and he found hope. He took the opportunities that were presented and made major changes in his life. He is now working full-time as a Peer Support Specialist with the Carroll County Health Department’s Bureau of Prevention, Wellness, and Recovery and is giving back to the community in a positive way by helping others through their own journey.