Paul’s journey is not unique among our members – isolated from friends and family, he struggled to care for himself and didn't believe he fit in anywhere. After connecting with our volunteers and our support services staff, he now has a new home at our Macdonald Residence.
Born in Haleyville, Alabama, Paul was raised by his uncle and half-brother in the Bay Area and Southern California. He completed 11th grade but didn't go any further, deciding to try different jobs, finally settling on commercial truck driving.
For 15 years, Paul was a commercial truck driver, driving around the country with a traveling carnival. At the end of one carnival season, Paul ended up in Portland during the winter, and moved into a place in Clackamas County with his then-girlfriend and her daughter. Due to his past criminal history, he was not allowed to stay long at his new home, and was forced back onto the road.
With only a car to his name, Paul drove into Old Town, and took residence at a local shelter for men. He said that during this time, he would sleep in the shelter and then drive around all day until he had to go back to the shelter to sleep. When Paul learned that he would get the opportunity to live in an SRO (Single Room Occupancy), he thought he would finally have a place to call home.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the SRO was not the paradise he thought it would be. Paul was confronted with a small room and had little to no interaction with the outside world. Isolated from friends and family, he lost his sobriety after many years of staying clean.
It was during this dark time that Paul decided to attend a birthday party hosted by the Macdonald Center in the lobby of his SRO. He didn't stay long at the party, but he got a comforting feeling from talking with the volunteers from our Center. They encouraged Paul to sign-up for our visitation program, which he did, and he began to see volunteers regularly.
From the weekly visits with Paul, our staff learned that he was in need of additional help as his health was deteriorating and soon would require around-the-clock care. Paul came to visit our Support Services Navigator, Maegann Simpson, and they began to investigate some options.
Luckily, an opening in our assisted living building, Macdonald Residence, was available. When Maegann asked if he wanted to live at the Residence, Paul thought, “You've gotta be kidding me,” thinking he didn't belong there or wouldn't fit in. When he toured the Residence he was impressed that it was practically brand new. After applying and being accepted, Maegann gave Paul the great news that he could move and he was in shock! It took Paul a couple days for the news to sink in and for him to realize that he was going to move out of the SRO.
Now, Paul smiles as he sits in the sunshine. He feels like things are finally starting to get better and that he is starting to fit in. When asked if he would still visit our Community Room, his response was “Of course, but I don’t want to wear out my welcome.” When we explained that he could never wear out his welcome and that he would always be welcomed in the Community Room, he began to tear up. “Feeling welcome is a new experience for me.”
It is the flexibility and commitment of our staff that has led to Paul finding a place that he can call home. As our members are faced with a variety of challenges, from self-care to housing needs, our staff is able to meet them where they are, and help them achieve attainable and tangible goals for themselves. Our model is based on the relationship we build with each member, not certain expectations, allowing us the flexibility to address a wide variety of concerns for each person we work with. For some, it is as simple as wanting a weekly visitor, for Paul it was a new home. So, on behalf of our staff and wonderful volunteers, welcome home, Paul!