Greetings everyone! I’m here today to try and tell everyone that we’re not at all different, and we have a lot more in common than you might think. Rich or poor, we can all share the same love and passion. I’m 35 and I admit that I have had, and still have, an addiction to gaming. I’ve been a gamer since I was 3 years old when my parents bought me a Nintendo Entertainment System for the holidays, and gaming is one of the things that has carried me through the years.
I grew up in California. Things changed for me when I was 12. It was the last time I got to see my father for more than a couple of weeks out of a year, as we moved from California to Michigan. I ended up going to school at a Catholic private school, since the public schools and streets of Detroit were far too dangerous to go to. I spent two years there and, during that time, the only thing that kept me going through all the homework and boredom was playing games.
After those couple of years, we moved down from Michigan to Tennessee to be closer to the family. During my years at school, a tornado went through our town, which destroyed the gym at our high school. After we rebuilt, I graduated school with a 2.5 GPA, only because I had classes that didn’t have subjects that interested me.
I spent the next few years looking for a way to help my mom with the rent and bills, but because we lived in a town of just 2,000 people, it was nearly impossible to find and hold down a stable job. The only work I was able to get while I was living in that town was volunteering at a gaming store, and a short-lived job at the local Subway. It was around that time when I first started feeling depressed, because I had no money to spend on games or even real food for the house that was more than ramen and packaged food.
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Things stayed that way for a couple of years past graduation, when we finally moved back up to Michigan. I had a place to stay only briefly, where, during a cold Michigan New Year’s Day, I found myself homeless for the first time. I managed to find a grocery store job that lasted for a few years, but during the months to come, I received a phone call from my father.
He said that it would be the last time I would ever talk to him. He was dying of lung cancer. After a couple of hours in tears my father told me to always be happy with whatever I did, and he apologized that he was never there for me. After a long silence, we hung up the phone. A few days later, I received a call from my stepmom saying he was gone.
I spent the next year struggling with daily life, unable to bring myself to work or even enjoy any meals. I told myself that I needed to make things better for myself, so I picked up a job at McDonald’s. During that time, I went back to school and received a degree in business administration with a 4.0 GPA. I received a job working for Apple, but it was not happily ever after.
I spent six months living in a Motel 6, being able to afford to eat no more than cans of ravioli and Wendy’s kids meals.
I became homeless again in the middle of Michigan winter. I spent six months living in a Motel 6, being able to afford to eat no more than cans of ravioli and Wendy’s kids meals. I received a way to recover from old high school friends who wanted me to move back to Tennessee, but in doing so I lost everything I owned. After moving down south again, I found out that some of my friends had changed for the worst, and found myself locked out from my own bed again. I decided to change my life again, and took the last of my things and moved here in 2014.
Being homeless in Seattle was both more and less difficult than other areas. My first few months were spent struggling with what was diagnosed as severe, life-threatening sleep apnea. Finding shelter that could house my machine and me only happened when I found SHARE and the Salvation Army.
During my time being homeless, I came to Real Change. I was first active in the International District while I was staying in Seattle, but thanks to King County Housing, I was given another chance at living, and having a decent place to live.
I now spend my days in Bellevue sharing my love of helping others. Being a part of Real Change and the impact it makes on the community is what drives me to wake up every day. I look forward to the smiles I can share with you all every day. Thanks for everything!
The Homeless Speakers Bureau is available to any organization, school or business. Host organizations pay a $125 honorarium to Real Change for two speakers. This payment covers $50 for each speaker, plus transportation and food for prep meetings. Speakers may be scheduled two or more weeks in advance of the event. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-441-3247 x 212.
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