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.
I am so proud and honored to be on the Board of The Mission in Citrus County. My heart is for people and that is the heart of Jim Sleighter, the Director. (I believe that is why God connected us ...love for people) Jim is not a man of politics but a man of compassion, who truly cares and is concerned for the homeless. There are so many misconceptions about the homeless, but I still have fond memories of the first time I walked into the shelter....the warmth and the love. I pray that God will bless this ministry beyond measure as Jim continues to do what God has called him to do in spite of hardships and trials. "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me...Inasmuch as you do it unto one of the least of these my brethen you did it unto Me. Matt. 25: 34-36; 40. This passage truly describes the heart of Jim Sleighter.
I have been connected to the Mission In Citrus for about 18 months. The church that I minister to began interacting with the people from the MIC. It has been a great blessing to me and to my church. The MIC is truly a unique place. It is a place where people are caring, loving, willing to hold another to account, willing to give so that the MIC can sustain its ministry. Lives are being changed. The residents there are not looking for a handout, but need a hand to help them out of their current difficulty. As the only emergency shelter , their door is always open to help someone. I am convinced that the MIC is able to do more with less than any other organization I know of. Jim and the volunteers are doing a great job providing help to all who need it. Just because an individual is homeless does not mean that they are not important. That is evident from the minute you walk into the shelter.
I have been a part of Mission in Citrus Inc. as a Volunteer Employee for over a year now. I volunteer 40 hours a week for this amazing charity. Not one person who helps here gets paid. We all do it because we see a program that is non-traditional but IT WORKS!!!! The Mission has results unheardof. I am also a Member of Mission in Citrus Inc.'s Board of Directors. This charity is on it's way to bigger and better things, and I just wish we had more dedicated volunteers willing to help us with grants and fundraising, then this mission will have the funds it needs to operate and have programs desparately needed for the residents. What little programs this mission has its amazing the people it has helped.
Review from Guidestar
I am very proud of the homeless and have been blessed since I founded it in 2008. They have proven that they can help each other without paid staff when given the proper resources.
My name is Robert Brown. I moved back to Florida after a loss in My Family in 2009. After a couple months of being home I found myself down on my luck and homeless. I was at a appointment at the VA where I explained to the secretary my situation. She gave me information on a homeless shelter. I called the Mission In Citrus and talked to Jim Sleighter. After talking to him and said he would have someone come and get me and I could stay at the shelter. There I was able to make contacts with VA reps about Disability as well as Veteran Housing in Gainesville. I stayed at the Mission from June until October of 2009. Because of respect and dignity I was given and a warm family-atmosphere I was able to get to Gainesville and finish my disability case with the VA. With in 7 months I was back on my feet receiving my VA disability and moving back to Citrus County to live with My Future Wife and be closer to My Youngest Son. Because of the Love Shown I recently Joined on The Board and help out the Veteran's Shelter in Inverness,FL. Thanks Again Mission In Citrus and Mr Jim Sleighter!