Listen to Frank or read the full story below.
Audio credit Susana Canales Barrón
"Eight years ago I was feeling very lost. I turned to alcohol, which numbed me but did not help. I was homeless, sleeping wherever I could - park benches, doorways, you name it. I didn’t know how to stop the cycle or how to access services. I ended up in jail (Elmwood Correctional Facility).
Let me take a step back though. Before going to jail, the United Effort Organization (UEO; theunitedeffort.org) helped me call the shelter hotline, access food (CalFresh), fill out Caltrans applications, and encouraged me to see a doctor who gave me patches to stop smoking. Thanks to volunteers at UEO, along with Officer Janleah McPherson with the Mountain View Police Department, I also got into LifeMoves temporary housing.
Then, in April 2022, The United Effort Organization heard that I had been incarcerated and stepped forward to help. Wei, a volunteer at UEO, visited me in Elmwood to learn about my goals: I wanted to stay clean and sober, find a job and a place to live.
Volunteers at the UEO gathered information about rehabilitation programs, and Wei visited me in Elmwood several more times. Meanwhile, I did psychoeducation classes to learn how to stop drinking (alcohol abstinence). When I was released in late June, I enrolled in a program in San Jose but after several weeks I felt that it just wasn’t working for me, and, though I was grateful, I decided to leave and went back to sleeping outside in Mountain View.
I really wanted to get back on my feet, stay sober and find work and a place to live. On July 12, 2022, I started the City Team Renew Program’s 10-month training and rehab classes and graduated on May 12, 2023. I was grateful to also be hired as a truck driver for City Team, which I really enjoyed. I regularly attended AA and anger management classes, and even took a financial literacy class and opened a bank account.
While driving for City Team, I took construction readiness classes through Goodwill to get into a trade, since I wanted to develop a long-term career plan. I heard about the Plumbing Union, applied, and just started their 5-year apprenticeship program on May 1, 2023.
I am grateful for the help I got from UEO, and especially to Wei for sticking with me, being a mentor, and believing in me. While I’m still working on getting permanent housing with help from the UEO and City Team, which offers transitional housing ($500/mo. for up to 2 years), becoming a plumber will lead to a better income to help keep me self-sufficient.”
Wei said “We are so happy for Frank! By following the City Team program, working for them, and maintaining responsibility for his own apartment, Frank gives hope to us and others. It’s really great that he now helps at UEO, ‘paying it forward’ by helping others who are struggling, as he was less than a year ago.”
While Frank is doing well now, relapse is always a concern: It remains very important for him to have a support network as a positive influence and to give him moral support. UEO is hopeful to remain a big part of that for Frank!
Visit theunitedeffort.org to learn more about how you can support our mission to help unhoused people in our community move towards self-sufficiency and a safe home.