Meet Our Guests: Alan and Duane

Welcome back to another installment in our “Meet Our Guests” series! Today, we’re delighted to share the inspiring journeys of Alan and Duane as they rebuild their lives, one step at a time. These stories were written by our Director, Harrison Holtkamp, and originally shared via email with our friends and supporters. If you’d like to join our email list, fill out the form here. 

At the end of this article, you’ll find links to previous stories in this heartfelt series and learn how you can help. So, without further ado, let’s meet Alan and Duane.

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. (Psalm 113:7)

Meet Alan

A few months ago, a young gentleman came into our program who was going through some very tough circumstances: a heroin addict who was starting recovery and recovering from a debilitating stroke, left behind during an overdose by his “friends,” to be found by his mother at death’s door. As he began to recover, he had to learn to walk, along with other issues seen in stroke victims. 

His mother knew that her son, who had years of addiction, years of being on the streets, and years of being in and out of jail, was a good person. While in her home recovering, he would sneak out, or “friends” would bring things to him, and mom would have to stay up all night to try and stop this while jeopardizing her job. She was at her wit’s end and could not do it anymore. She had heard that our shelter had a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol and that our doors were locked to anyone trying to reach individuals inside. She decided to enter him into our program to stay here overnight while he worked recovery and rehabilitation programs during the day.

It started rough for him. He had never been held accountable or responsible for his actions. Because he was walking on a walker, everyone felt that he needed to be coddled. He and I sat down, I listened to his story, and I began to explain what we expected of him. He said, “I am disabled, and I can’t do any chores.” And I said, “Then you should be in a nursing home.” When he said that he did not need to be there, I explained that we will find chores that fit within his disability.

So, every morning, he wiped tables down. This simple chore did more than satisfy a cleaning duty. It gave him pride that he could contribute and show others that if the kid in a walker could pitch in, they could, too.

He has been working very hard on his recovery and rehabilitation. Last week, he was approved for disability (Social Security). This week, he was informed that his application for an apartment complex was approved, and he will be moving in shortly. 

There is something very heartwarming about a young gentleman walking with a walker, smiling from ear to ear. We are very proud of him. Below is an email that his mother sent me this morning.

Hi Harry,

I just want to thank you for all you did for Alan. You gave him a chance when many wouldn’t. You made exceptions that were so needed, and that helped to keep him on track.  I never fully understood the value of the shelter until I saw how it benefited him! It is definitely so much more than a place to sleep! I had lost hope of him ever getting better, and now he is on the path he needs to travel!

My offer to volunteer is always there; you can email or text me!

Thank you again,

Sometimes, I think of us as a nest, a place for rebirth, a place for rest, sustenance, and guidance. When those in the care of the nest find their wings, it’s time to fly. I am glad to see that Alan’s hard work has him soaring to the next stage in life, and I am glad to be a part of his rebuild.

Meet Duane

This week, we were brought a guest who is blind. The local police department brought him to us because he had lost his place to live due to a domestic situation. Duane is a super nice guy who keeps rolling with the punches that life has thrown him.

My staff was concerned that we were not set up to accommodate him. I said that if he is homeless, he is in the right place. We moved a few beds around to make sure that he had direct access to the restroom, and I informed all shifts on what I expected them to do for him. 

The next day, while sitting at my desk, I thought about a guide rope. I found a few hooks in my junk drawer and used a rope I had in my truck to tie down items to create a guide rope from his bed to the restroom. 

Duane’s journey has just begun, but the independence we created for him, with five hooks and 12 feet of rope, has helped him to blend in as one of our guests.

The job we do is not easy, and some guests have issues that I could never write about, but at the end of the day, I am proud that we offer a helping hand to all who need us.

Join Our Mission

If Alan and Duane’s stories moved you, you won’t want to miss our other Meet Our Guests articles. Check out past stories below and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates in your Inbox.

It’s amazing to see how our guests are rebuilding their lives. We are so proud of their progress and determination. To support more transformational stories like these, consider becoming a monthly donor. We can’t do this work without you!

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