Goodwill helps John manage his freedom

An elderly man wearing a long sleeved plaid button up shirt and thick dark rimmed glasses stands on an outdoor balcony and smiles at the camera.

John spent 25 years in prison. It was bittersweet when he got released in August 2021. He gained freedom. But he was heading for the streets. He had no home, no friends, no family, and no support system. He checked himself into the cheapest motel he could find.

He had health concerns that added to his stress and worry. The other guests at the motel were doing drugs. John didn’t feel safe. It was mentally and emotionally weakening.

He needed safe and stable housing. He connected with Goodwill’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. He learned about the program from a caseworker while still in prison. Goodwill’s SSVF team welcomed him and took him into their care. They were friendly and inclusive. They made him feel safe, something he hadn’t felt in 25 years. SSVF got to work and made plans to find housing for John.

When he told the team at SSVF where he was staying, his team at SSVF got him moved to the Ramada Inn. This was a safer and more temporary upgrade than the earlier motel. So SSVF searched for more permanent housing. After a little over three months, John moved into a completely refurbished apartment.

Continued support to continue growth

John worried about starting life in a new home since getting out of prison . He worried about finding a home, taking care of himself, and being on his own. SSVF helped lessen his stress and worries. His rent was paid by SSVF from December 2021 through May 2022. After May, the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUDVASH) stepped in to help. The HUDVASH program pays a part of a veteran’s rent and is long-term support for housing stability.

John also had one month of electricity covered. John’s case manager took him to get essential items for his new apartment. He got things like pots and pans, silverware, dishes, household cleaning supplies, and bathroom supplies. He also got a vacuum cleaner, laundry soap and basket, a mop, a broom, and a toaster. And he got a full kitchen’s worth of groceries.

One of the SSVF team members took John to Newby-Ginnings in Post Falls (a veteran’s thrift store in North Idaho). There he got a bed, a couch, a table, a coffee maker, and other small items.

He needed to get an identification card after not having one for 25 years. One of the SSVF team members took John to the Department of Motor Vehicles office to pick up his ID card. SSVF also set him up with six months of valid bus passes so he could get around town easier. John was grateful for the immediate help he got from Goodwill.

Taking care of what matters

John had several medical concerns that led to heart surgery in February 2022 . So he began focusing on his health. He couldn’t take the bus while recovering. There were many trips to clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. One of the SSVF program case managers made sure John got to his appointments. His case manager picked John up and took him to his appointments and made sure he returned home safely. He also got help getting new prescription glasses and dentures

Aside from helping him take care of his medical issues, one of John’s case managers became a close friend. John was finally getting the support system he wanted and needed. This case manager took the time to walk through issues that created problems for John. He got advice and pointers on how to cope with difficulties and how to change negative behaviors. His case manager never wavered from the goals at hand. They continued to guide John on his path to achievement and independence.

No dead ends

All John had known was the harshness of prison. So he is not only grateful for Goodwill’s SSVF program support, but he is also very impressed with the amount of support and kindness he was given. He was met with graciousness, professionalism, inclusiveness, and safety.

Without Goodwill’s help, John said he would be “lost in the wilderness… I was glad to be free, but I was impaired mentally and emotionally. My health was in jeopardy.”

John has never felt as grateful as he does today. He deeply appreciates the “special people there at Goodwill Industries.”

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