Duane Gives Back

After being chronically homeless for three years, Duane is happy to be living his new life safely housed. It wasn’t an easy journey to get to this point, however. Through Duane’s hard work and support from TrueNorth Community Services, Duane was able to change his situation for the better and now even gives back by helping those who are in the same situation he used to be in.

When Duane was homeless, he would utilize the tent city during the summer and the local shelter in the winter. He would stay with a family member or a friend temporarily from time to time but that was never the best situation for him. Duane worked two jobs to help get him on his feet, but even while doing everything he could, he didn’t believe he deserved to have a place to call home. Duane says, “And I think I didn’t deserve it, and that was wrong… I was working two jobs trying to get myself [on] my feet so I can get somewhere in life.”

Through encouragement from his caseworker at TrueNorth and seeing his hard work pay off, Duane began to have more hope for a healthier future. Duane’s determination paid off when he moved into his new apartment the day before his birthday. When reflecting on how he felt when he first walked into his new home, Duane says, “I wanted to jump up and down and make all kinds of noise and throw a big old party. I worked hard to get this, you know. Ya, I was pretty excited.”

After being housed, Duane’s personal life improved as he had fewer worries and was reconnecting with his family. “I don’t have many worries. It’s great having a place to live,” says Duane. “I have some stress but not too bad, it’s a lot easier now that I have a place.” Having a place to call home enables Duane to focus on his relationships and his future. Now, Duane has a stronger relationship with his siblings because they have less worries about his well-being now that he lives in a safer, healthier place.

Giving back to the community has also been important to Duane even when he was homeless. Duane had started volunteering at HELP Ministries before he found housing. After volunteering for a while, he was offered a job and continues to work there today. Duane has also spent time volunteering at the homeless shelter he used to stay at. He doesn’t want anyone else to be in his previous situation, which is why he continues to volunteer at the shelter to help others get back on their feet.

Today, Duane has been living in his new home for over 2 years. He continues to work and volunteer and is still grateful for the support he has received to get where he is today. Duane says, “I don’t want to live the homeless life again so I’ll do what I can do to keep my apartment and find resources. I don’t want to see anybody else homeless either. No going backwards, it’s always forward.”