If you met SaintA Independent Living Services (ILS) client Malcolm (23) today, you would never guess he spent the better part of two years in shelters. He is clean cut, well dressed, has a contagious laugh – and, despite difficulties in his past, has plenty to smile about.
His journey from homeless to hopeful began after he was kicked out of his childhood home about three years ago. It was winter and his feet were always cold. “I had to just keep moving, it was me and one suitcase,” Malcolm says. “A generous bus driver took me to another bus stop and even gave me a bus transfer. That next bus took me right to 19th and Wells.”
Grace of God
In an act he calls, “the grace of God,” Malcolm ended up at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission for shelter. He picked up every odd job he could find, even if it was $5/hour, at least he had some cash. He was determined not to get into the homeless mindset of continuous dependence on shelters.
Instead, with help from his church family, Malcolm got his GED – something he didn’t even realize he needed until potential employers started asking for his transcripts.
For years, Malcolm’s caregiver had kept him so closed off from the world that he thought he automatically graduated from being “home schooled” when he turned 18. His sister was also under the impression they had graduated, when in reality, they had no school records for junior high or high school.
His sister also spent time at a shelter and still depends on friends for housing. “Housing is the first thing you need out on your own. EBT helps with food, but you have to have a place to put that food,” says Malcolm.
Grace of Others
Again with help from his church family, Malcolm went to enroll at Milwaukee Area Technical College last year. School has been slow going because of his full work schedule and his need for financial aid.
However, Malcolm is determined to do the best he can with what he has and at the moment, that’s not too bad. He has a place to live, a bank account and a vehicle to borrow when he needs one, thanks in large part to the Luthers, his mentors through SaintA ILS. “When I think about it, I’ve come a long way in just a few years,” says Malcolm. “It’s like God sped the things I had to go through up for me three years ago and here I am.”
Malcolm currently works at a large grocer’s warehouse and is saving money for school and his own place. He has been asked to give presentation on behalf of SaintA’s ILS programs and has a knack for connecting with audiences. It’s a trait that’s likely to serve him well in any career path he chooses.