Andrew’s Story

Each year, we reflect back on the impact that we’ve had, and thank you for your support. Because of you, and the rest of our community, we’ve helped 1,522 individuals access resources to secure and remain in safe and stable housing.  We are honored to share the journeys of the individuals and families we help to secure stable housing because we know it takes much courage to overcome life’s hardships, especially a life-altering hardship like homelessness. I am grateful to be sharing Andrew’s journey and the way his life has been impacted by JOIN with you.  

As you read and take a look into Andrew’s journey, I invite you to carry these two ideas: 

Progress is not linear, and everyone deserves a chance for a better life.

Andrew had a difficult childhood. He saw things that no child should see. He was abandoned by his mother at a very young age. At the age of ten, looking for family and community, he joined a gang and moved up in that world. Andrew felt conflicted and ashamed, knowing that his life was causing harm to others, but he also felt completely unequipped with tools to change his life or his situation. He knew how to cook but not how to pay any bills. He knew how to survive on the streets, but he didn’t have any interpersonal skills to build relationships. He felt like he was spiraling out of control. 

And then one night, under a bridge in Portland, he met Mike, a JOIN Outreach worker of xx years. Andrew describes Mike as “bold as heck! Giving us a message of hope.” Mike knew how to build bridges, and despite meeting Andrew under a bridge selling narcotics, Mike recognized Andrew’s humanity and knew Andrew deserved a chance.

Unfortunately, a setback came too quick. Andrew was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover police officer and went to prison. Andrew didn’t give up, though. When he got out, he enrolled in PSU to earn his credentials as a Peer Support Specialist. Andrew reached out to Mike again, and Mike helped him move into an apartment. Although Andrew was checking all the boxes for getting his life together, he was still struggling with the trauma and guilt within himself – which led him to relapse. 

Andrew still didn’t give up because the support system he had in place did not give up on him, and he made the hard decision to give up his apartment and move into sober living for 18 months. When it came time to graduate from the program, he reached out to Mike again. Even though Andrew felt like he had disappointed Mike– Andrew turned that into motivation. 

“I can’t say enough how much that meant to me. The result of that is that I’m strong in my recovery, I’m growing emotionally, I’m growing in areas of my life that I never would’ve been able to grow in. I only have one day at a time today. I’m a much stronger person because of what JOIN has done for me. I have a beautiful home. I have a car now. And it’s only possible because JOIN made it possible. JOIN gave me a boost so I can stand up on my own two feet– and I’m very grateful for that.” 

Progress is not linear, but it is possible. 

We encourage everyone to appreciate the complexities, the setbacks, and the fragility of many of our housing “success” stories. Each time we see a tent on the side of the highway, we think of the person living inside, knowing that they’re somewhere on the continuum between stability and instability, of housed or unhoused, of “succeeding” or being set back. 

Your support is the bridge to helping our friends like Andrew find stability. Can we count on you to make a donation to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness overcome challenges and access safe and stable housing? 

Even though there seems to be so much space between the world as it is and the world that we want to be, we are steadfast in our belief that a home is a solution to homelessness, that a relationship-based approach is an antidote to a culture that dehumanizes our houseless neighbors,and  that we can make a difference in the lives of those we meet

We thank you for making a difference in our community. Because of your generosity, we’re meeting people where they are, and aiding them as they overcome tremendous challenges. Because of your belief that our work is not done until all of our neighbors are safe in our community, we’re able to make that a reality for our neighbors like Andrew. From all of us at JOIN, we couldn’t do it without you.