(Pictured above: Antyon’s townhouse. He now has a place that he can call home.)

By Jason Tatum

I had a great conversation with a former resident of the Gateway Center earlier today.  I asked him about his life, his experiences, and where he’s been, but I did not find him eager to dwell on the past.  His story, as far as he is concerned, began the day he got out of prison.

The day Antyon left prison, he had nowhere to go.  He lacked money, a place to live, and family or friends to fall back on for support.  He was without a lot at that point, but what he did have was a desire to make his life matter.  Antyon knew that he needed work and he needed it fast.  “I just got out there immediately and applied to everything I could find,” he told me.  “I was willing to work right away so I got going on the hunt. It took me two days to find employment.”

Antyon had spent just three days in a nightly shelter when a staff person at that facility told him about the Employment program here at Gateway Center. He made his way over to Pryor St. where he made a new friend and mentor in Christie Peters, one of our case managers on the third floor.

“Ms. Peters gave me the tools I needed to reach self-sufficiency,” Antyon related to me. “I learned how to budget my money, save, and plan for the future.” Within 6 months of leaving jail and having literally nothing, Antyon was ready to move into an apartment of his own, paid for by his own hard work and dedication.

Antyon enjoys the work he is doing at the moving company where he is employed, but he has his eyes on the future. “I’ve got a cool place and I’m in a good spot, but I know what I want to do with my life. My dream is to get a degree in Human Services so that I can counsel others and give back. I want to impact others and help change lives.”

I asked Antyon what he thought about his experience with homelessness and being in one of Gateway’s programs. “I would recommend the center to anyone. Gateway Center has so many resources that were really helpful.  They had the Department of Labor office right there in the building. They had a computer lab that was great. They even helped me get furniture. Anyone who needs help shouldn’t hesitate to go.”

Antyon has been living self-sufficiently for about two months. The job is going well and the apartment is becoming a home, but perhaps the best news he had, the thing that was the most exciting to him overall, was that he was now taking online classes towards that degree: that dream of helping others.

Last year thousands of people stayed at Gateway Center in their journey towards self-sufficiency and out of homelessness.  $10 provides meals for a day for one client. Every dollar counts.  Make a donation today.