Addicted to drugs, and with a criminal record two inches thick, 51-year-old Lucas seemed like a hopeless case.
“I was robbing people, I was stealing whatever I could to get drugs,” says Lucas. “I was high as a kite the whole time.”
It’s hard to imagine that even someone like Lucas could make a change. What could make a person like this turn his life around?
For Lucas the keys to transformation were Kerris, Khamil, and Khamiya, his grandchildren who needed him. His daughter, the children’s mother, also suffers from addiction and couldn’t keep them. If Lucas couldn’t provide them a home then the siblings would go into foster care. Lucas vowed that he would do whatever he could to give his grandchildren a better life.
Lucas began working with his Community Link social worker, Tamatha Hall, in October of last year. Their first task was to find a place that would be affordable long term and a landlord who would accept him: with his criminal history and the shrinking stock of affordable housing in our region, this would be a monumental challenge.
While Lucas worked with Tamatha to find housing, he and the kids were sheltered all winter long in the Urban Ministry Room In The Inn program. Each night they would line up to get places on one of the buses taking neighbors to sleep on cots and floors in churches and schools scattered through the community, a different site every night. They would receive an evening meal, breakfast, and a bagged lunch. If they were lucky there might be a shower or laundry facility. The next morning they would get back on the bus before sunrise to return to the Urban Ministry.
Despite all this disruption, Lucas made sure the kids attended school every day. He attended a parenting class and learned discipline techniques to manage his grandson’s angry outbursts—“growing up I got whipped if I got out of hand, so I thought that was what you were supposed to do,” he says.
He also continued volunteering for Narcotics Anonymous, serving on the activities committee and occasionally driving someone to detox.
When Room In the Inn ended in March they were still striking out on finding the family a permanent home. Lucas and the kids were staying with friends, moving from place to place. The stress of the situation was starting to wear on Lucas, and he wondered if he was doing the right thing: “I told Tamatha I was about ready to just turn the kids over to DSS,” he says. But Tamatha encouraged him to keep going.
In June they finally found an apartment and moved in. Thanks to your support, Community Link was able to pay the first and last month’s rent, and is paying a temporary subsidy. Lucas continues working with Tamatha to strengthen his situation. Tamatha has helped him establish and monitor a budget, referred him to Legal Aid to try to clear some incorrect information on his criminal record, and access other community resources.
Archie says he isn’t sure where his daughter is staying. “She will call sometimes and ask if she can take a shower,” he says. “I let her come over, get clean, eat, and sleep.”
“I know I didn’t do right by my kids,” says Archie. He will do better with these three.
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