Today on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we share the following success story of one of our residents to thank you for your part in increasing awareness and assistance for individuals of every race, religion and color living with HIV/AIDS:
After his mom died in 2011, Gary came to Chicago “to change people, places and things.” He had become so depressed in his hometown that he attempted suicide. After he spent all of the money his mother had left him on drugs and alcohol, he reverted to crime. His brother told him if he didn’t leave his hometown, he’d end up either dead or in jail for the rest of his life.
Gary followed his brother’s advice, uprooting to Chicago where he eventually moved into Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance’s Bonaventure House. “God has kept me around for a reason,” says the 52-year-old man. “Now I’m seeing it.”
For the past 18 months at Bonaventure House, Gary has found a community where he can talk about his health, his feelings, even his past, without worrying that he’ll be judged. For years, he says he’d been dealing with depression and guilt stemming from his past choices. “And through the help of my therapists and my sponsor, the groups that Bonaventure has here, and talking to people, it’s helping me,” he says. “God has a purpose for me and I’m seeing what that purpose is. It’s to go out there and help someone else.”
Gary says he wants to reach out to at-risk adolescents and young adults to prevent them from making the choices he made – choices that resulted in him having to spend half of his life in prison. “I’m seriously not proud of what I’ve done,” Gary says. “If I could save one or two kids from having to go through what I went through, that would make me feel so good.”
In six months, Gary’s two-year stay at Bonaventure House will end. He is searching for permanent housing – a search he says he is prolonging because he doesn’t want to leave. “I really love it here. I just can’t say how grateful I am for a place like this to help people like me out, give us the things they have given me.”
Despite his reluctance to leave, he is optimistic about the future and plans to keep pushing forward on the path he says God has put in front of him: “Just doing what I’m doing and giving back what was so freely given to me. I’m not looking back no more. I want to see why God’s kept me around this long.”
Thank you again.
Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance
To learn more about the Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance, visit http://www.alexianfoundation.org.
For more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, visit:
Visit us at http://www.alexianfoundation.org