By Emily Emshoff

We are happy to be sharing the success story of Zachary Leach, a previous client at the Gateway Center who was a part of the Veteran’s Program and is now stably housed and self-sufficient.

Zachary Leach came from Philadelphia to Atlanta in 2009 with the hopes of finding a job as a longshoreman in Savannah, Georgia. When his plans began to veer off course he found himself living in Atlanta longer than planned, with no job and no income.

Zach began to live off his unemployment benefits, which lasted for two years. As his source of income began to dwindle, he found himself going down a path that was leading to a life he had never imagined for himself.

“I never thought I had a drinking problem. I knew I had a drug problem, but I had stopped doing drugs in 1989. Turns out, I was substituting one drug for another when I turned to alcohol.”

After living in an apartment for four months for free, the landlord told him he either had to start paying or leave.

“I ended up staying in an abandoned house nearby. My depression set in, and I began to drink more heavily.”

After taking advice from one of his friends, Zachary visited the Veteran’s Administration. He told them he was experiencing homelessness and an alcoholic. After visiting a few different shelters, he was referred to the Gateway Center in April 2013 and joined the Veteran’s Program.

“From the day I walked in the door at Gateway, I did everything they asked of me. I worked hard and eventually became a Residential Assistant. I finally had options for my life.”

Zachary began attending school at Cutting Edge and became a certified barber and cosmetologist.

After being an RA for seven months, Zach is now self-sufficient. He will be starting his new job as a barber, and he is in the process of moving into a two-bedroom condo downtown. He has also been sober for 11 months.

“I can honestly say that Gateway has given me a great life. I no longer smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol; I don’t even eat red meat!”

After living on his own for six months, Zach plans to return to Gateway and volunteer. He wants to help people who are in the situation he was once in. Zach says coming to the Gateway Center was the best decision he has ever made.

“If you want a new beginning, start here.”