Joe had a pretty good life. He grew up with good parents, had a wife and son and had a construction job doing steel work. He was a hard worker and never thought that he would always be able to provide for himself and his family.
In 1985 Joe was working on a warehouse when he realized he needed a safety strap for the area he was working. Before he could go get it, Joe fell 20 ft., breaking his neck and fracturing his skull. “Coming so close to death, made me realize how vulnerable we all are. It could all be gone in a second,” he recalls.
Recovery took 2 years and put Joe’s family in massive debt and the strain was too much for their 8-year-old marriage. Joe tried to go back to construction but a fear of heights made that impossible. He worked a succession of restaurant jobs and even had a landscaping business for a while but the pain from his injuries kept interfering. “I never imagined I wouldn’t be able to work,” Joe says.
Finally, in March of 2013, Joe lost his job and his apartment. He didn’t want to bother family so he found himself living on the streets. The camping equipment that used to be used for fun family trips was now vital to his survival.
“Don’t ever say you’ll never be homeless. It could happen to anybody,” Joe warns. He had no idea how many homeless there were in the area until he was one of them. “At first, it’s very humbling. You’re trying to find places to sleep… hiding out so you don’t get in trouble. Sometimes you feel like a criminal.”
Joe came to The Open Door because he knew he would get a hot meal. He knew he couldn’t be too proud to ask for help. In addition to the hot meals, he liked the people and the devotionals helped him through a very difficult time.
In August, after 5 months of homelessness, Joe realized he needed to accept help from his sister. He knew he couldn’t live on the streets over the winter. He’s using this time to get back on his feet but looks at life much differently than he ever did before.