Growing up in a Pennsylvania household with seven kids and parents who worked, Glen describes his childhood as “a rough foundation.” They lived in a tough neighborhood and Glen was dubbed a “slow learner” in school, never getting above a third grade reading level. His memories, though, center on trying to protect his mother from his physically abusive father.
“If something didn’t go right, he took it out on her,” Glen remembers. “She said she stayed for the kids. When I was almost 18, we told her to leave him…(that) we’ll be fine. She said ‘no.’”
Instead, Glen left home when he was 19 years old. He worked in restaurants and other jobs, but lost them because he had begun to drink. Eventually hitting rock bottom, “I put myself into rehab,” he says. Living at the rehabilitation facility for three years, he worked in their warehouse and earned a small stipend. Not enough money, however, to travel home when his parents died.
Finding a job in an Altoona, PA thrift store, Glen got married in 1991. Together, the couple had two sons. When his wife died in 2001, the now single dad did his best to raise his boys alone. After two years, he decided to move the family to Orlando and warm weather. Things went well for a while, until they didn’t, and the family ended up living at Coalition for the Homeless. That was in 2005.
What happened next was devastating to Glen. The state removed the boys from his custody, deeming they had been left unsupervised. Though he disagreed, this dad was unfortunately not in a position to challenge what was thought best for his boys. “It was hard for me when I lost them, seeing everyone else with their kids.”
Now childless, Glen slept on the floor at the shelter’s Men’s Pavilion, spending his time helping out and “giving back” to those who were trying to help him. When their new men’s facility opened, he moved into the dorm. Through his case manager, he was evaluated for and began dealing with his psychological issues, anxiety and depression, and physical problems.
In June 2015, his Coalition case manager referred Glen to Pathlight HOME’s Restore Permanent Supportive Housing Program and “brought him over” to Maxwell Terrace Apartments. “I felt like I was at home. At first I felt scared…all those years in a shelter…I didn’t know anybody. But [Programs Manager] Miss Audrey said, ‘you’ll be okay. We’ll help you out.’”
“So I calmed down,” he remembers. “I stayed in the apartment and loved it, because it was something of my own. I don’t have to worry about getting up, getting in line for breakfast and dinner.” Having lived in a dorm environment in which he had to sign in and out, Glen proudly adds,” I have my own key. I can go and come anytime I want. I can do whatever I want now without signing in and out.”
Since his arrival, Glen has gratefully accepted his case manager’s assistance, participated in activities and supportive services, kept his medical appointments, filed for disability benefits, and appealed an initial denial. As of this writing, he is awaiting a decision, yet is positive as his doctors have attested to his disabilities.
Glen was recently approved for a federal housing voucher program for seniors (55+). He will be able to stay in his apartment until his current lease ends, and then plans to move elsewhere, within the requirements of the voucher. This is a big step forward for him and, though he’ll miss the Restore program activities, he’s grateful to still have the support of our Community Case Manager Syr.
“I think it was time for me to move forward,” he explains. “”I’ve been in Restore for 3 ½ years. I didn’t want to stay any longer than I needed to…I’ve got to take responsibility for myself now…Yes, I’ll miss the picnic and everything Restore has. Ms. Syr will be able to do some, but not all.”
Anticipating his disability benefits, Glen is excited to be able to “pay my share of the rent.” His new goals have brought on a fresh, positive energy. “I want a place with a stove in my own apartment,” he says. “I’m going to start saving for my first month’s rent, security deposit, furniture and supplies.”
He also has another, more heartfelt goal: to reconnect with his sons. “I would like to see them…see if they got married,” he says. ”I want to see them before I hit 60. Because of my illness, if something should happen, I want (people) to know who to contact.”
Glen believes that success is often defined by one’s start and what they’ve gone through in life, which we’ll call the “span of success.” He’s feeling very successful these days about his journey from a shelter, to a place of his own, and now “moving forward.” He wants homeless individuals in the community to know about the Restore Program and that, “If I succeeded in (Restore), they can do it. Success to me is (going) from sleeping on the floor to my own bed, key and mailbox. I can walk freely.”
He adds, “Do it the right way. Do what you need to do for you. I’ve succeeded so much. I have moved forward to a better self. I started to depend on myself, instead of others. If I can be independent, others can. You have a case manager to help. They can give you that step, but you need to use that stone.”