Keys to my new future

Today I’m excited to introduce our guest blogger, my friend Rod.Rod’s optimism and friendly nature have made a big impact on me and Lio, and we both feel so lucky to get to spend time with this wonderful guy.Rod loves JOIN and wanted to share his story and perspectives after having moved out from under the bridge and into an apartment last week.

Hi friends and supporters of JOIN, my name is Rod and I have been rescued from the madness of homelessness.

Some of the ones on the street regret or deny not needing a rescue from their situation. In my case I had a friend while I was living under the Burnside Bridge, officer Burleigh, who recognized my worthiness and assisted me by helping me out of my madness by referring me to JOIN and my new buddy Lio.

I need only to mention my adventures under the Burnside Bridge for anyone to realize that I needed help.One of my main pitfalls was that I did not recognize my own need because I was too busy scraping out a meager survival.Survival isn’t enough and I found myself in a deeper quagmire of the madness and basically had to extricate myself from the lifestyle.Sometimes easier said than done.But lo and behold, there was Lio.

A few years ago I found myself in Portland, after coming down from Seattle to try to help my brother, only to find out that he needed more help than I could give alone.I soon found out that I had to shift focus to Rodriguez, and my own priorities, the number one issue was housing.

The population under the Burnside Bridge is the homeless and the forgotten.I know them well and I am them.I don’t go over there any more, I don’t think of them anymore. I don’t think of that lifestyle at all.The one thing that I hold dear now and have to continue is my education. I have to look forward.I want to go back to school soon. That chapter of my life is closed, but what I learned through that survival in that madness is something I’ll never forget. I’m reminded every day when I see fellows sleeping in doorways in America in 2011. It’s frustrating, and I try to think that they’ve chosen that lifestyle in the same way that I chose to.

I learned a lot in that chapter of my life. I learned to recognize the strength I had under the bridge, of having to go into survival mode, though I never felt that I really had my back against the wall.Some people out there seem so drained, like they have nothing left. I never felt that like. I woke up every day glad that I had “24 more” (that was my expression outside)I knew where to go for a meal. I just never got way down and that has to be because of my optimism, a basic concept of mine that not everyone has. Some of the fellows in the street frowned on that. Said “why is he so up?” I wish them well. All I can say is that I’ve been through it and it takes self-strength. It has nothing to do with having to box someone. It’s all inner strength.

Of the numbers of those who police society’s down and out, my total thanks to one Officer Burleigh, who tapped me on the shoulder more than once about being a better man than what I was displaying. Thanks Officer Burleigh.You saw strength in me that I had let wilt. But when you brought it to my attention I had to reenergize and choose a better path- one that I continue to navigate thanks to the help of JOIN, and individuals like Lio Alaalatoa and Colleen Sinsky.

Now I’m a regular guy. The future is an open pathway I’m about to embark on and I’m excited to see what happens.When I moved into my own place, I was presented with keys to my new future, and it’s an incredible feeling that only those who have had their autonomy taken from them would recognize.