“I got hit in the head on the job site, started having seizures and such. That’s when I got put on medicine and no one wanted to take a chance on me.” Wesley is a 52 year old man who migrated from Louisiana to California in 2013 after receiving no help after a work injury. When Eastside’s Local Compassion crew met with him at his newly acquired apartment, he began to unveil his story.
“I had always been a hard worker, earning my checks, working hard”, explains Wesley, distressed that after his work accident, his way of living drastically took a turn. He left his life in Louisiana to come to California, optimistic that he could make a better life for himself in a state with more effective assistance to citizens with disabilities. He found housing with a family and began to form a life.
It wasn’t long until his son needed to join him in California due to some strife with his mother. Wesley, having grown up without a father, was happy to receive his child and raise him in their new home, however, the homeowners didn’t feel the same, and strongly requested they take their leave.
Just like that, the father and son were on the streets with no hope of housing in sight.
They lived a few days in the park, a few days in Wesley’s car, all the while keeping his main focus of creating some kind of normalcy for his son. “I had to keep my faith, I had to try and keep this as normal as possible, ‘cause my son didn’t ask for any of this.” However, without accessible bathrooms or kitchen space, and the threat of others possibly wanting to take advantage of them on the streets, Wesley knew they had to find a different form of shelter.
As he began to search for any form of lodging, Wesley grew to understand a new hurdle to overcome: as every organization he reached out to for housing wouldn’t accommodate men with children. He couldn’t wrap his mind around a charitable place with the hope of shelter not possessing the ability to offer any assistance in his current predicament. With this continued rejection, came continued hits to his pride.
The way Wesley coped with this very unexpected season of homelessness was consistently reading his Bible. He said, “it might sound corny, but the Bible is what kept me stable, kept me focused--even when I wanted to give up.” A few weeks into his search for housing, he got connected to City Net, an organization who partners with people experiencing homelessness in their search for housing and stability. Renée, his case worker, began to work alongside Wesley, and informed Eastside about this devoted father’s current situation: he had now found housing, but was unable to make the down payment on the apartment. Wesley had hit yet another roadblock, but this time, there was a community that was able to help.
“When Eastside showed up”, Wesley explained, “it was like God said, ‘I told you, you just had to wait’. It was like it was supposed to happen.” He and his son were able to move into their own apartment after that and what a blessing it was to have their own place again, Wesley shared. “A place to call home, where there isn’t a sign on the fridge saying ‘Keep Out’, where they could have conversations just the two of them without someone listening in.”
Although hardly easy or enjoyable, Wesley went on to say that he was grateful for the journey that got him and his son to their current situation. “It was humbling, it taught me to appreciate what I have”, Wesley described. “I see people on the streets now and all I think is, ‘Thank you Jesus,’ because I feel like I’m one step ahead of that, but only one step back to being right back there.”
With this strong perspective, Wesley explained that now his goals are to manage his finances well as to avoid being back on the streets. His main focus remains on being the best father he can, in seeing that his son is loved, supported and that he graduates from school. Wesley even wants to give back to the community and get involved with helping the elderly neighbors he now has.
Through his trials and tribulations, Wesley kept one main mindset: to not give up. This is the mantra he keeps close to his heart, as there were many days he considered doing that very thing. But through his circumstances he learned of God’s provision in the midst of brokenness, and the importance of teaching his son the power of staying focused--that sometimes, choosing to not give up is the bravest step forward you can take.