United Way of Portage County (UWPC) is dedicated to helping people achieve financial stability in order to help provide a better quality of life for the residents of our community. One program that received funding from UWPC is Freedom House, a program that exists to provide emergency shelter to those veterans in a housing crisis, while also providing support, advocacy and referrals to encourage self-sufficiency and movement toward permanent housing. With this type of support, numerous veterans in Portage County have been able to receive a hand-up to gain stable housing, find employment and get connected with other services available to those who served in the military. Here is one story from a gentleman who sacrificed a lot for our country and needed some support to get where he wanted to go:
Mike is a combat veteran who was deployed to Iraq three times. He entered Freedom House after a year of couch surfing anywhere he could. Mike was diagnosed with a TBI and Post-Traumatic Stress. He was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Due to his substance use, Mike had alienated himself from his family, including his young son. When he first entered Freedom House, Mike was withdrawn, suspicious and angry. He got sober and it took some time for him to feel comfortable and trust Freedom House staff and our program. After roughly two months in our program, Mike started to change. He began to engage with staff and his fellow residents. He started to fully participate in the group therapies we offer, and found a passion for art (specifically drawing). Mike found a part-time job at a local business and committed himself to rebuilding his life. He reestablished healthy relationships with his son, father and other members of his family. Mike was determined to make a change, and he did. He was able to find a full-time job and permanent housing. He stops by Freedom House from time to time “check in”. The last time he made a visit, he was excited to tell us that he recently started a small business and had secured some contracts to remodel recently vacated properties. He wanted us to know that he was the happiest that he’d been in a long time and that he felt like he found some peace after years of struggling with “his demons”.
To learn more about Freedom House, a program of Family & Community Services, visit: fcsserves.org/program/freedom-house/