A brief story about a JOIN peep, by Quinn Colling

I first met Eamon in the fall. I saw him randomly around the west side of town, camped wherever he would be left alone. Eamon really did not want anything to do with me. I offered him a few blankets or whatever I had with me, but he usually responded “thanks, I’m fine”.

As an outreach worker, you soon learn that, with a little patient persistence , a relationship of trust will begin to develop. Eamon, after a few months of hellos and goodbye, decided that he would share a bit of his life story. He came from a middle class family and claimed he had a fairly normal upbringing. Some of his family members had a gambling addiction,which made money tight and the tension high as he entered his teenage years. This led to a separate life outside of his house which sometimes clashed with the law. At age 18, Eamon faced some legal difficulties and spent his early 20’s incarcerated. After his release, Eamon went to school, worked as a technician, and supported his family. He maintained a stable life until a divorce from his wife caused a severe depression and a manageable drug habit out to grow out of control. Eamon could not kick the depression and found himself without a job or a home.

For the next seven years, Eamon moved across the continent. (At one point, he was homeless and sleeping outside in the Manitoba provence of Canada). He lived on the streets or with anyone that would let him sleep in their home. He worked odd jobs, barley scraping a living together. Eamon admitted that a few times he tried to get off the streets, but without any success. “Really”, he stated, “I gave up on life long ago.” Eamon and I spoke for a while longer that night and I told him if he was interested in housing that he should come see me at the office. The day arrived that I was supposed to see Eamon, but he did not show up. I spent the next two weeks looking for Eamon at various camping spots and did not find him. I assumed that he moved to a different town.

I was wrong. One month later, Eamon came to see me at the office. It was a shock to see a healthy, cleanly shaved and smiling Eamon standing in front of me. It turns out that he almost died and had been in the hospital. Some of his organs are failing and he ended up in a coma for over a week. He had been clean for a month and wanted to take me up on my offer.

Eamon moved into housing three weeks later. He has been clean for over five months and housed for three. His health has its up and downs, but that is not stopping him from starting a new life. He is in the process of applying for social security and he volunteers twice a week for various agencies. Eamon has even decided to go back to school. A technical college recently accepted his application and in four years he will receive a bachelors degree. He is currently applying for scholarships and trying to make sense of the student aid process. It will cost quite a bit of money, but he states that it is worth it. He tells me “Quinn, life is worth living and I will make this happen”. I believe he will.