Testimonial

HENRY COOK 

You have probably heard all of the reasons that people are homeless. Mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism and just bad circumstances. I am sorry to say that this is true to some extent. People with mental illnesses do live on the street, especially when there is no family member or friend to help them. They have trouble keeping up with their medication and in some cases have just been kicked to the street because they have issues that no one wants to deal with. There are people that have been effected by the pandemic and have lost all they had. I have even met people that choose to live on the street because agencies willing to help them, do not allow the use of drugs outside of prescription medications or the consumption of alcohol. So they will not stay at a shelter for that reason. I was a victim of a DUI Hit and Run which landed me in the hospital and cost me my vehicle and livelihood. Then the Pandemic hit. I eventually could not pay my rent and out on the street is where I ended up. Because I could not find a job or had no income, I found myself on food stamps and sleeping in a tent that had been given to me. All of this for the first time in my life at age 60.

 

I began to drink heavily due to depression, and as a source of self medication for pain that I suffer with and eventually it started effecting my health in many negative ways. Fortunately I had a Pastor that was concerned for my health and safety, that began a mission of getting me off the street. I had to live in a hotel for a while but eventually, she came across the Solano Dream Center, which offers a Shelter program to help get people off the street and transitional housing once you are on your feet again. The Dream Center helps people with applying for things such as General Assistance, Food Stamps, gainful employment, mental health issues and SSI applications. As well as providing meals, showers, clean sheets and a bed to sleep on, best of all clean toilets, how I had missed those.

 

At first I was apprehensive about moving to the shelter because of stories I had heard about “Dorm lifestyle”, how things are often stolen and in some cases there were stories of physical violence. When I arrived at the Solano Dream Center in Vallejo there was a brief period that I was uncomfortable because of the change and new surroundings. However, the people there made an extra effort to make me feel comfortable. Within about 3 days it felt like home. I made new friends and now I can say those friends are my family. I love being a part of a big family, even when things aren't perfect.

 

Being ambitious, I felt the need to do something for my new family on a volunteer basis just to feel useful and to be able to contribute. Since I had certification in the food service industry, I was allowed to work in the Kitchen which happens to be my ministry, feeding the hungry. I enjoyed what I was doing and as time progressed I asked God to remove my desire to drink and He did. Some people from the Administration spoke with me about moving to a transition home from the Shelter and I am glad I decided to do that. Without me even knowing that they were helping me, The Dream Team, as I called them, had taken me from dirty and homeless to clean and productive and gave me the ability to make a decision to let God heal my broken spirit. People have said “but you had to want to do that yourself”. Yes, but the Dream Center gave me hope which allowed me to want that lifestyle of being healthy, both physically and Spiritually, you see before I didn't even know that was what I wanted.

 

In a 28 day period I went from the street, to a home. 3 months later I am the house manager at that same home, case manager for all of the program residents and do intake for the new comers, and still volunteer in the Kitchen 3 days a week. Most important of all, Solano Dream Center facilitated my spiritual healing and helped me improve my relationship with God which I am and will be eternally grateful for. It feels good to let people who care, help, even though I am fiercely independent.