When you first meet Marvin, you notice his towering height. When you talk to Marvin, you’ll notice his big heart.
Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Marvin lived with his mother and his two older sisters. In school, he liked math, gym, and woodshop. His father lived in Detroit, and he saw him on the holidays.
Going to church was an important part of his upbringing. Marvin attended services, but like many kids, he didn’t find any value in attending.
He and his mother decided to try a church down the street and Marvin’s world changed. “They were singing and shouting. They had guitars, and drums. I got involved right away,” noted Marvin. He meticulously watched the drummer and eventually learned to play drums. The pastor who was also a licensed contractor, was quick to notice Marvin’s excitement and invited him to be part of his construction crew. At just 13 years old, Marvin jumped at the opportunity to gain experience and earn some cash. During the day, he attended school and worked with the crew during the evenings and weekends. “I learned all kinds of skills—painting, construction, and roofing. I also learned how to work hard,” noted Marvin.
Being a young man on the crew, Marvin wanted to prove himself. He lifted things that others wouldn’t and turned his body into a workhorse to impress those around him.
The wear and tear on his body took its toll and eventually Marvin was no longer able to work. He needed to go on disability. “I’m not used to sitting around and doing nothing. This was a tremendous change for me,” he said.
Eventually, Marvin came to Reading, Pennsylvania to help a friend paint her home. He returned a second time to help another friend and decided to make Reading his home.
He got his first apartment in Reading and welcomed a roommate, Tammy. This new partnership has been mutually beneficial. Tammy needed a place to stay when her family no longer welcomed her. A survivor of a severe automobile accident, Tammy has long-lasting damage and requires a tracheostomy to breathe.
After four years of being good tenants, Tammy and Marvin’s landlord raised the rent. It was far beyond what they could afford. They began looking for another place to live. “We couldn’t find an affordable apartment,” noted Marvin. For a brief time, they stayed in a hotel but soon the money they had saved was gone. With nowhere to turn and homeless, Tammy and Marvin came to Opportunity House.
“It’s my first time being homeless. I never expected it. I couldn’t believe that we couldn’t find an affordable apartment,” he said. While at the shelter, Marvin is looking for an apartment, saving his money to meet the ever-increasing cost of security deposits and improving his credit score, too. “I know this is not the place for me and I’m doing everything I can to move on,” he added. “I’m not sure what the future will bring but I am staying positive and staying focused on my goal.”