Meet Morris, a homeless veteran who faced numerous challenges, including addiction and unstable housing. Learn how Opportunity House offers critical support to homeless veterans like Morris, empowering them to rebuild their lives and secure stable housing through addiction support and mental health services.
From Military Service to a Downward Spiral
Morris enlisted in the Marines to support his young family but faced difficulties after leaving the military. A serious injury led to drug abuse, job loss, and periods of homelessness. His journey exemplifies the struggles faced by many homeless veterans.
For Morris, the military provided the structure and income he needed as both an 18-year-old and a new father. Unfortunately, his military career was cut short after spending time in the brig for marijuana possession.
After leaving the military, Morris’s life went on a series of downward spirals followed by moments of fleeting stability. A serious injury to his leg led to depression and an abusing pain killers. He was able to work periodically as a forklift operator but the pain from his injury interfered and he lost his job. This cycle would continue for years, and despite the support of his family.
Fleeting Stability and Addiction Battles
Later, Morris moved to Columbus, Ohio to get a fresh start with his new wife and son. He got a job at a lumber company and his wife was going back to school. Working as the second shift lead at the lumber company, he was required to lift heavy beams. The pain became unbearable and a doctor prescribed pain pills. His wife worried he would become addicted again. Unwilling to address the issue, Morris left her and his son.
After 40 days, he returned home. The couple briefly reconciled but his wife left because he continued to take pain pills.
With nowhere to go, Morris was homeless. He would clean parking lots to generate cash. This homeless veteran sold bottles of cold water at a gas station to customers who wanted to help him. These odd jobs didn’t generate enough income to afford an apartment. He continued to live on the streets and used the cash to fuel his addiction. His drug of choice now was heroin. It was more accessible and affordable than prescription pain killers.
Tired of being homeless, Morris contacted the Veteran Administration Homeless Outreach Program. They helped him find a place to live and he began working at Fed-Ex. Life had improved and Morris was on a path to a bright future until COVID hit. Work stopped and his addiction kicked back in. His life was spiraling out of control.
Morris knew he needed help. He called his sister, and she convinced him to go to rehab. Morris completed an inpatient program, then an outpatient program, and eventually moved to a recovery house. While his addiction was being managed, his personal life was in disarray. The mother of his child was fighting for full custody of their son. The mental toll on Morris was unbearable and he turned to once more to drugs to cope.
His final stint in rehab ended when Morris was fighting with other clients. They kicked him out of the program, and he lived on the streets until he came to Opportunity House.
Finding Hope at Opportunity House
Today, Morris credits Opportunity House for providing the mental health support and addiction support he needed to make the lasting changes for long-term success. Today, he’s waiting for his housing voucher and is applying for jobs. He continues to make changes to reclaim his life and become a role model for his children.
“My father was my role model. He was my moral compass. I relied on him to provide direction to me and helped me stay on track,” noted Morris. He knows the importance of having a strong role model in his life and the impact it had on him when he lost his father as a young boy. “I want my children to see me as their role model and to help them avoid the mistakes that I’ve made,” he added.
Supporting Homeless Veterans
The story of homeless veterans is a familiar one at Opportunity House. We open our doors to those who served and give homeless veterans a place to reclaim their lives and help them develop a path to stable housing.
Join us today to make a difference in the lives of homeless veterans like Morris. Get involved with Opportunity House and contribute to the mission of providing stable housing, addiction support, and mental health services to those who served our country.
Ways to get involved at Opportunity House
- Financial Support – donate HERE
- Volunteer – get information on serving dinner, joining a committee and other volunteer opportunities HERE
- Attend one of our events – attending an Opportunity Event allows you to learn more about Opportunity House and show your support all while having a great time.
- Donate unused items – donating to the OppShop not only keeps items from going to landfills, it also provides jobs for our clients, raises money to support the shelter and offers low cost essentials for those who need them.
- Come take a tour. To really understand the impact your support can make, call the shelter at 610-374-4696 and schedule a tour.
Opportunity House is a non-profit organization in Reading, PA, that offers those experiencing homelessness a safe place to live while they rebuild their lives. Our Success Stories share inspiring stories of our client’s journey from homelessness to finding stability, safety, and security after leaving the emergency shelter.