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You Can't Keep A Good Man Down: Richard's Story



Posted on Thursday, February 08, 2018
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

You can work hard and play by the rules, and homelessness happens anyway. Ask Richard. He worked his whole life and held a good city job until six years ago. At age 48, ill health and an injury turned his life upside down.
               But there is good news. This gentle, humble man has found a home at our House, along with hope that he’ll have a place of his own once again. Richard grew up in a two-parent home just outside of Birdsboro. But it was far from happy; he and his sisters were beaten regularly and endured constant emotional abuse. To survive, Richard stayed away from home until dark, playing sports or hanging out at friends’ houses, until he could move out and forge a life of his own.
               Richard always had a job—at a vending company, Goodwill, and finally, the Reading Parking
Authority. Chances are, if you’ve ever fed coins into a city meter, Richard maintained it. In his 15 years on the job, he installed almost a thousand meters. He had a home, a cozy cottage on a larger property in Mohnton, and forged a strong friendship with the couple who owned the property. But on-the-job stress led to heart problems, and he had to leave his job in 2012. He applied for disability in 2014, and was denied. In 2015, he shattered his wrist in a car accident, which further limited his employment prospects. With no disability payments, Richard had to live on
his pension, and a settlement from the accident, until March of 2017. The money ran out. Richard could no longer pay his rent. The couple, who loved Richard, let him stay, rent-free, until October. “I still talk to these folks,” he says. “They were the ones who brought me here.” He arrived at our emergency shelter with two bags of clothes and not much else.  This middle-class, regular guy was pleasantly surprised by his new home. “I didn’t expect it to be this nice,” he says. “The showers are clean. The people are nice. It wasn’t what I expected it to be.” After a short stay in the men’s shelter, he moved up to transitional housing. At first, he lived with a roommate. Then, last month, he got a room of his own.

Richard still hopes to get approved for disability. Should he receive it, he’ll be able to live in his own place and resume his favorite activities, like fishing and going to the shore. In the meantime, Richard still works hard—he drives other clients to and from their appointments--and plays by the rules, “which aren’t hard,” he says. “I do what is asked, and do what I can.” That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Tagged:Client Success

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Opportunity House

430 North 2nd Street
Reading, PA 19601

Phone: (610) 374.4696
Fax: (610) 374.3165

Email: info@opphouse.org

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