Anthony was adopted when he was six years old and grew up in Dudley, NC. After high school he pursued one semester of college on full academic scholarship before enlisting in the military. During this time, he would endure an injury by a moving vehicle. This back injury would prove an obstacle in landing jobs later that require the ability to lift heavy objects.
Life on the Street and in Shelters
When Anthony returned from the military, he was at loss to care for himself, for he did not learn self-sufficiency skills growing up. “First I was living with my parents, then my wife, then when I was on my own—I didn’t know what to do!” he explained, “someone gave me a mop the other day, and I broke it because I didn’t know how to use it.” Anthony also struggled with addiction for nearly 20 years. He once had a nightmare about dying in a rocking chair alone and forgotten because of his addiction. This became his biggest fear and also motivated him to arrange for a different life turn-out. His time on the streets was also characterized by his daily and pressing need to find and consume sugar so as not to pass out due to hypoglycemia.
One day Anthony was having a personal breakdown on the street because of his nagging recognition that he needed to change his situation. By chance Debra King, CASA’s CEO, encountered him at this moment on the street and spoke to him. He remembered, “She said my name’s Debra King and I help veterans. God definitely looked out for me in that moment of hopelessness.”
Now Anthony has been enjoying the stability and comfort of his own apartment for a month. His favorite feeling is to “lock and unlock the door.” He explained that he is still adjusting to his new lifestyle, and prefers to remain indoors to soak in his new reality. “I can’t deal with crowds anymore,” he shared. Sometimes, he rolls out a yoga mat in his living room and grabs a pillow to sleep on at night, because getting into the real bed does not feel natural yet. His living room is his favorite part of his apartment—where he can relax and watch TV. One reason why he loves his apartment is because “everything that I have in here has been given to me by people that I’ve met in the past couple months. . . that saw me out there putting one foot in front of the other.” Anthony plans to reenter the workforce soon, once he feels ready. He remembers past jobs that he lost because he didn’t have transportation or shelter close by. This time, he knows he can be successful.
Most importantly, peace of mind and stability have given Anthony a chance to get back in touch with friends and family members—like his son, now 21. Anthony and his son have lived apart for a long time. “This apartment helped me reclaim my life,” he says. “I’m so grateful.”