Hello. My name is David and I am newly homeless for the first time in my life. I recently turned 50. I'm probably not your stereotypical homeless guy. I tell you this because like many people in the world I thought this could not happen to me. I've always heard that many people live paycheck to paycheck and are only two weeks from homelessness. So here I am. I have a degree. Have worked at the Director level at Fortune-500 companies in retail for 25 years. I am a veteran of the US Army. I have medical certifications, training and experience. I've volunteered throughout my life so I've known a lot about homelessness from that side. Now it is me that's homeless. I want to share my story with you so that you don't end up like me and many others. Also, so that you can better understand how to help if your so inclined. If so, read on. Because I was laid off in NC I couldn't pay my insurance which resulted in the loss of my license. While trying to work was stopped twice for expired tag, driving with suspended license and consequently went to jail over it. I had a tax return and spent every penny on my van. I lived out of my van but was able to work and live knowing I was on my way out of this horrible hole I had dug for myself. Stacking on another bad decision I purchased a tag for $10 from a man trying to save money and the tag had been stolen. I now have a “Petty theft 1st offense” conviction preventing me from working in any job in my retail or sales fields. I lost my van, my home and all of my belongings while in jail for 20 days. I was accepted into a homeless shelter recently but their restrictions were difficult. I was ejected daily from 7am to 3pm. So I had a roof, food and bed. Now I just had to find that impossible job where I was within walking distance from 8am-2pm daily. Although my resume looks great on paper there were no retail jobs where I would pass a background check. That means my 25+ years of experience, hard work and education are now null and void. No job existed so I chose to live in the woods in a shelter I built so I could be available to work each day at a local labor pool. There were no guarantees for work just because I showed up each day at 5:30am. I have met many wonderful people while homeless including the Pastor that gave me my steel toed boots so that I may work. I finally found out about this place where I am now. This place I call home. The Mission of Citrus. I am currently at the veterans shelter but have also been to the regular sister shelter as well. While I am grateful for the help I received at other shelters I am now much more grateful to be here. The difference is simply night and day, black and white. Between my decades of volunteer work and now recent experience being homeless I thank God I found them. The Director Jim Sleighter, the staff, volunteers as well as tenants have helped me more than I can state in this letter. They are empathetic to the Veterans problems and situations as well as respectful and loving to each other. They provide not just a roof, food and clothing but give us every tool imaginable to help us and allow us the dignity to help ourselves. They are God fearing and loving people. We have the freedom and tools to get back on our feet and back into life again. Whether your needs are transportation, legal, physical or mental medical benefits, employment assistance and training, school or education improvements, housing assistance or simply inspirational advice they seem to have it all. I have been approved for temporary housing already. I now have a part time job and was hired for an awesome job the other day. I try to be positive but I have to assume I will fail the background check due to my Petty Theft conviction. I do have hope. My problems are fading away and are hopefully short lived. I am grateful for basics such as food and shelter. Its the other tools they offer that have made this homeless nightmare come to a positive end. Of course, I thank God for putting them in my path. They have also inspired me to continue to help others as I hope you will too. In summary please help these good people any way you can. Please support Jim Sleighter at The Mission In Citrus and others who are professionals with homeless assistance. Sincerely, David PS: There is a difference between lying and being a liar. Taking a breather and being lazy. I fear that beauty and perception lye with the beholder. I do not fear that God will judge me. It is you that I fear.
hello my name is Jessica Willis i am homeless and four months pregnant and the mission has helped me in so many ways and i'm very thankful for them they helped me get home to my family for the holidays and i am greatly appreicieated.... they are truly a god send i have stayed here befofre and i have had the same experience that i had this time... they staff are so warm welcoming and very nice people and the residents are as well everyone helps everyone and you could not ask for a better place...
My name is Earl i came to stay at the mission in citrus after finding my self not wanting to be in the woods any longer and no place to sleep so the kind folks at the mission took me in and i am very grateful that they allowed me to be part of their family
My name is Jennifer I am a disabled veteran who was homeless and stayed at the Mission in Citrus. They have done such great work helping me and my family that I still go and volunteer there, I refer other veterans and homeless people to them and families in need. I also have let the director know that at anytime if there is someone that needs to speak with me about a situation close to what mine was I am available an will help. So much help was given to me and I love giving that help in return. The Mission is a blessing to everyone who's lives it touches.
The Mission in Citrus Veteran's Shelter was an absolute godsend to me.
I'd been homeless twice before in my 56 years here on earth and the situation was certainly one which I didn't want to experience again. I've no one to blame but myself as the use of illicit drugs, among a number of other bad choices I've made in my life ( I've twice attempted suicide), were the primary reasons I'd become homeless in the first place.
Up until July of this year things were looking up for me and I'd found some light at the end of the tunnel; I had a decent job and a decent place in which to live. But because of the bad health and physical pain I was in, I would end up losing it all: my job, my home, and last but not least, my sense of self-worth. Then it hit --
I was heading toward the woods, to live in the woods, actually, when I'd heard of the Mission in Citrus Shelter and made the decision to make that painful phone call, the plea for help to the Crystal River Shelter. They opened their hearts and doors to me and invited me in. After three days of living there I was told that the veteran's shelter in Inverness had room for another vet, and I am a veteran.
The day I arrived there I was welcomed with open arms and I felt so overwhelmed and loved that I thought I was in Heaven. God gave me a family that I hadn't had in years. I thank God and the Mission for being my angel from Heaven every day and will always be grateful for them. They truly care about every person that they come to know and help. I thank God from the bottom of my heart. God bless brother Jim and everyone involved in this cause.
God bless all an thank you,
Robert D. Wegman (U.S. Army veteran)
My name is Peter Swanson and I'm a disabled post-Vietnam War era veteran. I found myself homeless after Hurricane Hermine struck the west coast of Florida in Sept. 2016. And, as a result of the destruction inflicted upon the region and the storm's aftermath, I wound up "living" -- if that's what you want to call it -- in my car in the parking lot of a local mall. I called a few friends to see if they could provide any kind of help at all, only to find that they were worse off than I was. Now really finding myself in dire straits, I dialed the Mission in Citrus Veterans Shelter in Inverness and was referred to their civilian branch in neighboring Crystal River. Within two hours of being interviewed at the C.R. shelter I was assured that I wouldn't have to spend yet one more sleepless night in my car as the vet's shelter had a room and bed available. So I hopped into my car and off I went to Inverness.
Having spent time living in a shelter previously, I was yet quite unsure of what to expect on arrival at the Inverness facility, but was quite relieved once there. "This can't be a shelter", I said to myself, "this is a home." Shelter, home, whatever you want to call it, I have only good things to say about the place; good things such as:
- It's been a tremendous help in my efforts to achieve sobriety; my ongoing fight against the addictions from which I've suffered all too many years. And as I've since renewed my faith in God (the Mission's motto is, by the way, "God runs things around here") I've once again learned to put my trust in not only Him, but His people as well, and let them back into my life. That said, no resident is compelled to believe in God or to attend services; they're perfectly free to worship, or not worship, as they choose.
- I've reestablished contact with my local V.A. clinic and the medical staff is helping me to deal with other serious issues effecting my health; issues that are, for all practical purposes, here to stay. Beforehand I found myself in a very dark place indeed; but now I'm beginning to sense a light, a Presence at the end of that tunnel.
- And finally: I give my heartfelt thanks to, not only the founder and executive director of the Mission himself, Jim Sleighter, but to the mostly volunteer staff (all previously homeless themselves) who work 'round the clock to help those who find themselves in the same situation both he and they once were. I simply cannot express gratitude enough for all the good that's happened in my life since I've arrived at the Mission Shelter; and it's inspired me to help others who are now, or those may one day find themselves in, the same position I found myself. I'm truly blessed, and thank all of you so very much for all the care, guidance, and assistance you've provided to, not only me, but the countless others you've helped to get back on their feet; those who've found renewed hope in becoming proud and productive American citizens once again. May God bless you all in turn.
Knowing I would be homeless within four days, and having received no help whatsoever from the Homeless Veterans 1-800 hotline (and in state of near panic, I might add), on a whim and as a last resort I decided to look up "Shelters" in the Citrus County yellow pages. I dialed the Mission number and spoke to the executive director, Jim Sleighter, personally. I told him my situation; that I'm a 62-year-old honorably discharged Army vet in dire need of a place to temporarily stay, to hang my hat so to speak, until I got back on my feet. Jim asked one simple question of me: Do you have a copy of your DD214? (that's military discharge papers to you civilians out there). I replied yes, and Jim told me to come to the shelter whenever ready as he could always make room for one more homeless veteran. Three days later I arrived with all my belongings packed into a suitcase and a travel bag and was warmly welcomed by Jim himself and several homeless residents of the shelter.
Long story short, Jim put me into contact with several veterans-friendly organizations "not on the map", so to speak. And through HUD/VASH , and the devoted, caring labor of case worker Barbara ("Bobbie") Shaw, I was able to have a housing voucher issued to me . As social security is my only means of income (remember: I'm 62, so obviously I started collecting early retirement, and believe me, it's not much to live on) H/V will require just 30% of my income in order to pay my share of the rent in a low-income apt. complex. This is nothing short of a godsend; a lifesaver thrown to a man about to drown in a hard-enough-to-survive-in world; and I have none other than Jim to thank for it all. May God bless that man; he's sure 'nuff earned his place in Heaven -- and that you can take to the bank, my friend.
I have known of Mr. Sleighter's service to the veterans of our community since prior to the establishment of his Veteran's Shelter in Inverness in 2010 - his kindness and caring had provided food and some respit to those struggling to get on their feet - myself included. Many times, he offered to assist with a place to "get you back on the right track", yet I demurred, feeling that his services should go to those more in need than I: at the time, though I was transient and working only occasionally, I still believed myself capable of continued existence without continuous support.
Until this year.
I found myself without a place to live, struggling with depression and suicidal ideation, no work prospects, and no one who I could comfortably ask for assistance... save Mission in Citrus. I asked to borrow a tent... there were none, but the staff (tenants of the Inverness Shelter itself) were helpful and made sure I left with enough food to sustain myself a few days, and a promise Jim would pick up a tent. That very evening, Jim HIMSELF went to Wal-Mart and picked up a tent, letting me know I was welcome to pick it up... and AGAIN offered me the opportunity to stay at the shelter (with identification verification against any potential legal entanglements and a DD214 to show veterans' status).
I still felt I could do better without clogging up the facility. I mean, a grown man SHOULDN'T have to ask for help, right?
After two days of self reflection and rumination, I decided to accept his generous offer.
After two and a half years of fluctuating residency, living on the couches of others, struggling to make ends meet, feeling worthless and 'a drain on society', I meekly moved into the Inverness shelter.
Sleeping on a bed has never felt so luxurious.
A hot shower never so wonderful.
being able to clean oneself and one's clothes regularly raises the spirits.
And having (even in this secular world) someone who's Faith has built their reputation and their service in the actual spirit of that Faith, well...
An aside: As I think about this, I'm crying - tears of joy.
I have been at the Inverness shelter a little over four weeks now - as of date, I've only missed one VA appointment (my fault - worked over the weekend and overslept the morning of my lab), have had more response to my applications for employment (two offers in less than a month, as opposed to earlier attempts often going as long as a year without an interview or even notification), and will be volunteering with Mission in Citrus with their web presence and SEO for the charity overall (was asked to help... and you're darn right I will!); allowing me to put forth my best effort to advance a wish I have had for over 20 years... to help a business with it's IT department AND to advance my own interests in web marketing.
So many opportunities opening... and granting one thing long since denied (IMO): HOPE.
This place is where angels rest their wings. I have seen this.
Folks on their downside aided with the tools to get their own life back on track. It's NOT Jim's job to do so... it's a service he himself espouses as per his Christian Faith to those who gave their word and their blood to defend this nation. Not for personal gain, either... he's doing it because he WANTS to see his charges happy, healthy, living right, and ON THEIR FEET.
It's not 'a handout' around here, either. Residents are expected to be 'grown folk' about things: Keeping the bills paid, the house presentable, and all of us 'work' the facility as it's our job... because it's WE who are the 'face' of Mission in Citrus. WE who are the culinary staff, the maintenance team, the IT department (raises hand)... US. Not some outside agency, not some group reliant on outside funding (such as DVA, a church, etc.) and that is by design - it allows our facility to work with a level of autonomy for its members no other place - in this county, state, or possibly the nation - can match.
It gives we who live here a renewed faith in ourselves and our own abilities. It aids our Fraternity members who may suffer psychological issues opportunity to resocialize as men and women, as Humans. It's OUR house, so to speak... to treat with respect...
This, though a temporary shelter, is our HOME. These men and women, Fraternal brothers and sisters, our family.
And this... we'll defend.
My name is Micheal Scully since coming to the mission they have helped me in numerous ways like giving me a bed to sleep in and helping me get a bus pass and applying for services i needed and getting a fl id and help with getting medical and prescription care and the also gave me assistance in searching for a job and getting all the hygiene products and food i needed
My name is Ramon Saldivar i came to the mission after being in the hospital and getting robbed.They helped me get the rest i needed and also helped me get back on my feet and helped me get home to my wife and kids. I very much appreiciate the mission in citrus for all thier hard work and everything they do
I came to the mission where they are very helpful and it is like a family everyone gets along for the most part and we have a good atmosphere to be in and i couldn't ask for a more helpful place to be at i am so thankful for the mission
My name is Sharon Anderson. I am 60 years old and have been a guest at the Mission in Citrus for about six months. First of all.I want to express my gratitude for the mission, which took me in when i had absolutely nowhere else to go.I feel very fortunate to be here and have nothing but praise and admiration for the mission director and other staff, and all who make this place a temporary home. I think Katherine "Kat" Romanowski does an excellent job tending to the many and varied needs of those residing here.Her many responsibilities -- day and night ,on site and off-- often keep her from getting adequate rest yet she manages to stay on top of it all . And i know she doesn't do it for the money,because there just aren't enough funds available to pay her or any one else a livable wage. Even so, I have seen Kat rise to every occasion. For example ,when the septic tank was clogged this past summer , she was right there, getting her hands dirty ,cleaning up inside and clearing the way outside for the professionals which she had immediately called in. When an emergency arises ,if Kat's not on site, she drops everything to get there and deal with it. I know i feel safe with Kat in charge and sense the other residents do as well. I don't mean to imply that Kat is perfect ,because who on Earth is? However ,she does have the rare to be both congenial and compassionate friend as well as a stern house mother to one and all.Perhaps it's because she has spent time in these "homeless" shoes. I believe these attributes serve the people here well and have prompted many of them to stay in touch with her,and the mission in general long after they have moved on.
the mission has helped me out a lot and get my life together and helping me be more proactive with my self and get back on my feet and im very grateful
i thank God for the mission they have helped me get back on my medicine and have a safe environment to stay in
I thank God and the Mission for giving me the opportunity to have a place to live.I was staying with different people.Going from one place to the next not knowing where i would stay or sleep next.Very grateful that the mission open the doors for me where i find myself safe and a place i can call home.Because that is exactly what it is my home.The girls and the management people are very nice .We get to cook for all of us and we watch tv and we get to do things together as a family .Everyday is a gift because i have a roof over my head ,food & friends . I am very lucky to be here where it is clean and comfortable and a safe place to be
since coming to the mission i have a job and i am trying to get my life in order
i came to the mission with my three kids and they have helped me to get the resources i need to get back on my feet
i came to the mission with nothing but my clothes and i am working on getting a job and getting my life back together and the mission is a great place the staff is great and they treat me like family
i came to the mission from the street and it is a god place to be and also a place to sleep out of the storm
its good for resources to advance and capabilities to do all that and im also glad to have a bed to sleep in