Glenn Coles came to Seattle from Chicago to make a new start. “There was nothing there — a lot of painful memories, a lot of pain, a lot of people I hurt, especially me. I walked away from a lot of stuff. Vehicle. Residence. I came here homeless.”
“I got divorced in 2016 after 32 years. We have four sons. I hurt Mom, so they had issues with me. Alcohol was my best friend. I’m in a place now where you can’t drink — a clean and sober environment.”
He does miss his family. “I’m 57 years old next month. I have 10 grandkids.” His youngest child is a daughter, 15 years old. “She’s got Down Syndrome, but she’s beautiful, smarter than I could ever hope to be. She’s got six medals in Special Olympics.”
His oldest child is also a daughter, born when he was 17 and given up for adoption. “My oldest son found her over Facebook, after 28 years.”
Glenn didn’t know much about Seattle. “I was doing some work in Florida, and I ran into a guy from Seattle. ‘Seattle is just wonderful. The people, they just allow you to be, without judgment.’ And I feel that. People want to help you help yourself.”
He gravitated to Real Change when he got here. “There was a newspaper in Chicago I did. I used that as a stepping stone to get with a contractor.” Glenn went from that to running his own businesses. “Painting, drywall. Wrought iron fences. I got to be really good at it.”
Glenn would like to do that here. “I had value. I was credible.” Some things in his past are making that difficult. “I screwed it up, but I’m not dead yet, so that’s attainable.”
Selling Real Change keeps his spirits up. “People are smiling at me all day long. I’m smiling and joking and have conversation until something tangible and credible opens up that I can attach myself to.” There’s one thing missing. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
Glenn deals with depression, brought on by the deaths of his parents and grandparents within a few years of each other. “I’m in some mental health groups and I see a therapist. It allows me to feel some sense of ‘I’m OK, you’re OK.’ At times in my life that wasn’t part of my attitude.” Instead, it was “ ‘I’m screwed up in my head or you’re pissing me off.’ It’s not like that anymore.”
Glenn would like to get back into music. In Chicago, he was in a group called Unexpected Pleasure. “We played jazz and blues and some originals. I still make music.”
Another goal is a new career.
He’s seeing if he can transfer credits from Chicago to Seattle Central College to get a psychiatric rehabilitation certificate, “to be a case manager [for people] with psychological issues, health issues, substance abuse issues. Just to be in a field where you’re part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
Wait, there's more. Check out the full July 11 - July 17 issue.
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