Bruce Finds a Home!
Update: In partnership with his committed LIFT Advocates, Bruce has secured Section 8 housing. No longer worried about finding shelter during LA’s fast-approaching, hot summer months, Bruce now has the time and bandwidth to focus on achieving his other goals, like improving his health and reconnecting with his family.
On April 7th, 2016, Member Service Fellow Will Levegood circulated a wonderful piece of news: after over 22 years of searching, saving, and hoping against hope, Bruce King finally had a place to call his own.
I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear the update. Bruce is the type of person who instantaneously makes you feel like an old friend, and his moving story is one that has stayed with me through the months. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to chat once again with Bruce, and on his behalf, I’m happy to share his kind words with the LIFT community:
“First off, I want to thank God, then I want to thank all the people of LIFT and their affiliates for their prayers and thoughts in helping me end a 22 year of struggle with homelessness. I don’t know what it was that had to happen in order for my life to change for the better, but I do know that once I started working with LIFT, things started to get done. Once again, thank you, and – oh yes – I will be paying it forward.” – Bruce King, 4/21/16
Read the original post on Bruce’s story below.
The holiday season is a special time for LIFT-Los Angeles. Last year, when LIFT-Los Angeles hosted its First Annual Holiday Fiesta, it launched a “wish list” letter-writing campaign that connected nearly fifty families with sponsors. As donations like blankets, warm clothes, shoes, diapers, and even miscellaneous items like movie tickets poured in, sponsored members saw many of their holiday wishes come true. Yet as LIFT-Los Angeles prepares to tackle over 60 wish lists this winter, it faces an unfortunate reality: despite donors’ generosity and the inspiring achievements of members and advocates, some members’ wishes inevitably remain unrealized – at least for now.
LIFT Member Bruce, who has spent the last twenty years on and off the streets, wants nothing more than a stable place to call home: “My problems started a long time ago. Put it this way: I’ve never been in the military, but I’ve been shot seven times on the streets of South Central L.A.,” he explained. “Even then, I didn’t really hit rock bottom until my mother died [in 2006]. Three months later, the house that I was staying in burned down. I lost everything but my job. I remember being stranded on the curb in tube socks and boxer shorts. This was around the same time that [Hurricane] Katrina hit, so it seemed like all the help was being sent to Louisiana… [Having] a home would slow down a lot of the bouncing around I’ve been doing. I could focus on my health, maybe even go back to school and become a paralegal. I figure I’ve got at least six years ahead of me, and I know I was put here for a reason.”
Now 54, Bruce is tired of being “put on hold” by organizations that “just pass the buck” when approached with problems that seem too formidable. According to Bruce, “In my travels and times of stress, I’ve found that some people care – not just because it’s their jobs, but because they want to help.” He places LIFT advocates in this group, saying, “I always look forward to coming here. I feel so much better every time I come because of everyone’s positive attitude. I found out [about LIFT] by word of mouth and it’s been a godsend. Everybody’s caring and knows what they’re talking about… I tell everyone I know about this place.”
The obstacles that lie before Bruce as he strives to obtain his wish are significant. Transitional housing is endlessly precarious: when he is not running out of motel vouchers, Bruce worries constantly about making a misstep that might lead to eviction from his temporary shelters. Bruce has had so many personal items stolen that he now makes copies of all important documents and is uncomfortable carrying wallets and backpacks around the city. Yet moving into his second year with LIFT, Bruce feels inspired to stay resilient and continue reaching for his fullest potential. Though Bruce chose not to be photographed for this post, he was thrilled to have the opportunity to share the photo depicted above. In it, Bruce cups his hands around a certificate that he and his advocate created together. It is a representation of his most deeply desired Christmas wish.
When asked what that sheet of paper means to him, Bruce smiled and said, “It gives me something to look at – something to shoot for. I like setting goals for myself and this is my biggest one.” Bruce paused, then added with a grin, “I figure I got about a month left [before Christmas] to do it.”
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